Leonard, fondly known as “Len” attended Jamestown High School, leaving to enlist in the U.S. Navy to serve his country during World War II, serving mainly in the Pacific Theater, earning the Victory and Asiatic Pacific Theater Medals. He returned to Jamestown after two years of serving and then went to Pittsburgh, Pa. to attend the Pittsburgh Institute for Air Conditioning where he graduated with a technical degree in air conditioning and refrigeration.
Len was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 53, active with their bowling and softball teams in his younger years. He was also very active in the Falconer Lions Club for many years, working on the annual circus fund raiser for the blind for a number of years when it was held, along with other fund raisers.
Len was a man who seemed to excell at anything he put his mind to, whether it be one of his many hobbies or a profession. He was a well-known and outstanding archer throughout Western New York and was ranked #1 in New York State. He helped organize the Skyline Archery Club and the Falconer Rod & Gun Club Archers. He was also a member of the Chautauqua Lake Archers. Len was the Chautauqua County Archery Champion in the Freestyle Class. He won over 100 medals in WNY Field Archery Meets, including 20 Pin Medals at All Distance, and won 6 Gold Awards in Target Ar-hery. He also competed in the Pittsburgh, PA Target Shoot a number of times, always placing in the Top 3. With his skill and talent in archery, along with his innovative mind, he developed a pistol grip style bow grip for a leading bow manufacturer when he was a young man and a top-ranked archer.
He also had a love for softball and played for Crawford Furniture in the Industrial Softball League, which was Jamestown’s only undefeated team with twenty-three game wins in a row. He was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus and a past Faithful Navigator of the Fourth Degree in the K. of C. He was also an active bowler in the K. of C. Bowling League and was on several teams that won the International League at the Fountain Bowl.
In 1991, Len joined John Luensman at the Ripley Hawk Watch to identify and count all raptors migrating northward over Chautauqua County. He immersed himself into the study of birds, especially birds of prey. He voraciously read numerous books, periodicals and any pertinent information on birds of prey available, seeming to absorb and retain everything he studied and read down to the smallest details. In 1994, he encouraged the Roger Tory Peterson Institute to donate a set of two-way radios to the Ripley Hawk Watch to use annually for communication between different sites during the annual spring flight. The Ripley Hawk Watch was the first hawk watch to use such radios in the United States and those radios became a valuable resource for communicating information. He was well known for his knowledge of raptors (birds of prey), keen memory, quick wit and sense of humor. He was devoted to the Ripley Hawk Watch and spent countless hours and days each year for many years, serving as the Ripley Hawk Watch Coordinator, identifying and counting birds (including the rare sighting and filming of a Swainson hawk in this area, along with other sightings of whooping cranes and sandhill cranes). He enthusiastically helped many people, both young and old, to identify birds of prey at the Ripley Hawk Watch. Len was passionate about birds of prey and their preservation and was a dedicated activist and spokesperson committed to protecting and safeguarding their migratory paths, playing an instrumental role in keeping industrial wind turbines away from the migratory paths of birds and bats. He served on the Conservation Committee and helped write “The Position Paper on Industrial Wind Turbines” that was presented to the New York State Ornithological Association to establish set backs from Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Chautauqua and their tributaries. The preservation of birds was so important to him that he traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak with environmentalists about it. In 2006, he was presented the Conservationist of the Year Award by the Nature Sanctuary Society of WNY due to his heartfelt dedication and role in protecting the migratory paths of birds and bats. He also received the Chairman’s Award from the Jamestown Audubon Society in 2008.
He was a member of the National Audubon Society, Jamestown Audubon Society, New York State Ornithological Association, Inc., Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Hawk Migration Association of North America, R.T.P.I. Ornithological Club, Lake Erie Bird Club and the Ripley Hawk Watch. Len was also a longtime member of the Jamestown Boys & Girls Club, serving as alumni president for several years and worked on the scholarship fund for the Jamestown Boys and Girls Club.
Len was a well known and respected insurance salesman who took pride in his work and truly went above and beyond to serve his clients. He was a leading insurance salesman employed by North American Insurance Co. for several years working mainly with farmers throughout Western New York and on Long Island and then worked for National Life Insurance Co. of Vermont for many years. He later became a self-employed insurance agent doing business with many companies; working mainly with farmers and small businesses.
Len is survived by his loving wife of 72 years, Celia Cavallaro DeFran-isco and his son Michael DeFrancisco. He was an incredible son, husband, father, brother and uncle to be proud of and will be sadly missed.
Along with his parents, Leonard was preceded in death by his dear sister Catherine “Kay” Cappa who passed away on her 98th birthday on April 18, 2021.
As per Len’s wishes, there will be no visitation.
Memorials and donations may be made to the Jamestown Boys & Girls Club, Jamestown Audubon Community Nature Center, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Falconer Public Library, VFW or a charity of your choice. Visit our website at www.falconer funeralhome.net to send a message of condolence.
We were so lucky to have an outstanding individual like Leonard who devoted his life to the well-being of birds. He had such passion for their protection and went to great lengths to ensure their safety. Leonard will be greatly missed. Many blessings to his family!
Thanks for commenting. He was a truly special committed person…..missed by all. Condolences and peace to his family.