Legion president bids farewell

Aethne Hinchliffe
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Moving to Dartmouth, N.S. is on Leo Connolly’s bucket list, and in a few weeks, he’ll be able to cross it off.

Leo Connolly and his wife Carolia are moving to Dartmouth to be with their children and grandchildren. Mr. Connolly has been president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11 since 2009. He joined when he moved to Port aux Basques in 1995. Aethne Hinchliffe photo

 

Mr. Connolly has four adult children and seven grandchildren in Nova Scotia.

“I want to spend time with them. They’re starting to grow up,” he said.

His oldest grandchild is 22 and the youngest is two. He said he’s eager to get involved in their lives.

“The kids are in sports and I want to get to see them and even help them,” said Mr. Connolly. “I’ve played a lot of sports myself.”

Mr. Connolly, who hails from St. John’s, joined the navy in 1962 and retired on July 31, 1995. He and his wife Carolia moved from his homeport of Dartmouth to Port aux Basques on Nov. 2, 1995.

“My wife’s from here,” he said.

The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11 has become a familiar spot for Mr. Connolly. And he’s become a familiar face to not only legion members, but also many people in the community. Most recently, he’s recognized at the Legion for his role as president.

He got involved with the legion because he wants to help the veterans who are here today.

“I wanted to be able to do something with the organization through the community,” he said. “And we do. We’re involved with the cadets in Ramea, Burgeo and Port aux Basques.”

Today’s veterans aren’t getting what they deserve, said Mr. Connolly.

“They come to us, and we help them as best we can,” he said.

Mr. Connolly first became part of Port aux Basques’ legion as a member. A couple of years later, he became part of the executive. He then became sergeant-at-arms, which is the person the president looks at when there are problems; for example, if people speak out of turn.

He eventually worked his way up to second vice president and then first vice president.

“Then in 2009 I took over as president,” said Mr. Connolly.

His role as president involved working with the executive committee.

“I’m not really in charge of the legion,” he said. “The executive committee is in charge.”

For the past two years, Mr. Connolly has been district commander. He’s been responsible for 11 legions from St. Anthony to Bonne Bay and from White Bay to Port aux Basques.

Some of the challenges he encountered as president included getting members to work together and finding volunteers.

“This legion has a lot of good members in it, a lot of good potential,” he said. “A president can be replaced.”

Gerald Lomond, who is the first vice president, will serve as acting president until the election of officers in February or March.

When Mr. and Mrs. Connolly get to Dartmouth, they plan to live in their daughter’s basement apartment until the spring, at which time they’ll move into an apartment.

As far as his involvement with the legion, he doesn’t plan to stay inactive for long.

“I’m going to transfer as soon as I get over there,” he said.

Though they’re not certain, he said he and his wife are looking at joining the Royal Canadian Legion Caen Branch 164 in Eastern Passage because they have friends there.

The fact he’s moving doesn’t mean he won’t miss his longtime community.

“I love it here. I love the people. I have made a lot of friends here,” he said. “I’m going to miss it here, but getting to spend time with my grandkids outweighs anything else.”

Organizations: Royal Canadian Legion Caen Branch

Geographic location: Port aux Basques, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia Ramea St. Anthony Bonne Bay

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