Man’s generosity recalled after death

Leroy Sailors, left, stands with Father Jack Gallagher, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, during the Dec. 20, 2008, Christmas basket distribution. Sailors, who was a patron of McAnthony Window and volunteer at the church, was laid to rest last week.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — Although he was not Catholic, Leroy Sailors gave back to the Catholic Church that had served him.

Sailors was a patron of McAnthony Window, which serves meals five days a week to low-income and homeless people. Sailors was not homeless, but was on disability after a work accident years ago, said Father Jack Gallagher, pastor of St. Anthony Parish, which  runs McAnthony Window.

Sailors died Jan. 29 at his Davenport residence. He was 54. He was remembered at a funeral service Feb. 6 at St. Anthony Church. Around 100 people, including family, patrons of McAnthony Window and St. Anthony Parish, wished farewell to Sailors.

In the early to mid-1990s, Sailors approached Bill Barrett, maintenance director for St. Anthony. Sailors wanted to give back to the parish for the meals it provided.

Barrett said Sailors helped clean the yard, keep the area by McAnthony Window in order, helped with the distribution of holiday food baskets and more. “He was a good helper. He had a big heart.”

Dennis Flaherty, business manager at St. Anthony, said Sailors was always willing to help give back to the church. “He did countless hours of work.”

A photograph of Sailors and Fr. Gallagher at a food basket distribution was displayed on a table in front of the church for the funeral service. Three bouquets of flowers surrounded the area. A walking stick that Sailors always used was propped against the table. The aroma of incense burned throughout the funeral.

“The incense symbolizes our friend going to heaven as he makes his journey home,” Fr. Gallagher said.

He said Sailors was a faithful servant. “Each one of us is important and special in the eyes of God. We are members of his flock. He knows each one of us.”

Fr. Gallagher said Sailors was like a shepherd. He always carried his stick and helped people move along when they went astray. He loved people. He wanted to help. He got joy out of helping.

“He used to come at 5:30 in the morning to distribute baskets three times a year. The rest of the year he helped Bill. He was like part of our staff. We thank him for his work.”

Myron Menard, a patron of McAnthony Window, said he knew Sailors for about 12 years. “It hurts,” he said as he apologized for tearing up. “But he has gone home.”

Menard said Sailors carried that stick for as long as he knew Sailors. “He carried it everywhere. I really miss him.”

Since Sailors was a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, he was buried with military honors. The flag that draped his casket was donated to St. Anthony Parish.

Fr. Gallagher said the family offered the flag to the parish. It will be hung in the church square “in recognition of his countless hours of volunteering our parish.”

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