In Memory of

Frank Leahy

 

December 2, 1926 - March 19, 2009

 

Now lift me close to your face till I whisper,

What you are holding is in reality no book, nor part of a book;

It is a man, flush’d and full-blooded — it is I — So long!

— We must separate awhile—Here! Take from my lips this kiss;

Whoever you are, I give it especially to you;

So long!—And I hope we shall meet again.

 

Those are the words of Walt Whitman from “Leaves of Grass” – appropriate words from Frank Leahy’s favorite poet … words that aptly describe the teacher who touched so many lives, because he genuinely cared.

There have been only a handful of people on this planet unique enough to be known by a single name. I attended what was then Palm Beach Junior College in 1963 & ’64. PBJC had two such unique individuals teaching at the college then and I was fortunate enough to have been impacted by both of them. Duncan inspired me to major in drama and Leahy became the mentor who gave me the tools and self-assurance I needed to become a professional actor.

Believe me, I was not alone. There is a multitude of former students whose lives were enriched because of the man known only as Leahy. He was a beacon of light to our future because he gave us the strength, courage and confidence to believe in ourselves and to trust in our talents. He once told me that my talent wasn’t just a gift; it was a responsibility that required respect, especially from me.

It is said that theatre is like one great big family. True! And Leahy was the patriarch who sat at the head of the table.

Several years after returning to Florida, my long acting career began fading into memories as my attention turned to writing. Once again, Leahy reached out to me and invited me to join a playwrights’ group he organized with former students. To this day it proves to be one of the highlights of my activities and one of the most beneficial groups with which I’ve ever been associated. Even tho’ his health prevented him from being very active with us the past year or so, we’ve always accepted him as our leader and will continue to think of ourselves as Leahy’s Playwrights’ Group.

He was the master when it came to theatre. Whether it was acting or writing, he taught us to respect the art and to love the craft. His impact has been tremendous. He was like a giant oak tree that, now gone, leaves a lonesome place against the sky.

Oh Captain, our Captain, we don’t say farewell, because each and every one of us will carry a little of your spirit with us for the rest of our lives. Instead we simply bid you adieu. Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.