Leo F. Portell, 90, of Sun City, Ariz., and formerly of Glen Carbon, Granite City and Madison, passed away at his home in Sun City on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.
He was born April 19, 1926, in Granite City, a son of Nick and Mary Rose (Campbell) Portell. He married Florence E. (Davis) Portell on June 8, 1973, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Madison and she survives.
He retired on May 30, 1991, from Granite City Steel after over 39 years of dedicated service as a tool repairman in the Hot Roll Department. During World War II he joined the Navy as a cook and baker on the USS LSM58 and proudly served from 1944 until his discharge in 1946. He was awarded the American Area, Victory Medal, Asiatic Pacific, and Philippine Liberation medals and his proudest moment was entering Tokyo Bay, Japan, on Sept. 3, 1945, the day after Japan signed the treaty ending World War II. Leo also worked on construction and worked at White Sands, N.M., where the atomic bomb was developed.
He was a former member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Madison and St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Glen Carbon. He was a faithful 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus Tri-Cities Council No. 1098 for 63 years and had served as a Faithful Navigator. In his younger years he operated his business of white-washing trees and in his teen years worked at Tri City Grocery as a meatcutter.
Leo enjoyed ushering at his church St. Clement of Rome in Sun City and especially enjoyed meeting, greeting and handing out bulletins as his fellow members left church. He loved cars and he loved discussing, reading and watching TV about cars and HGTV and DIY. His favorite hobby was growing roses and irises. Leo didn’t know strangers and he developed many strong friendships. His great joy was being able to share his many stories.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Walter Portell; and sister, Irma Manning. In addition to his beloved wife, he is survived by three nephews, Thomas (Joan) Manning of St. Louis, Michael (Liz) Manning of Pennsylvania, Gerald (Leslie) Hicks and niece Athena (Scott) Timiney of Arizona, and sister-in-law Sally Lou (Jerry) Hicks of Sun City, plus four great-nephews, two great-nieces and 15 great-great-nieces and nephews plus other extended family; his best friend, BoBo, and many other friends.
In celebration of his life, visitation will be 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, at Irwin Chapel, 3960 Maryville Road in Granite City, with a Chalice Presentation at 7 p.m. A funeral mass will be celebrated at Holy Family Catholic Church in Granite City at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, with Father Jeff Holtman as celebrant. Burial with military honors will be at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Edwardsville. Memorials may be made to The Black Madonna Grotto Shrine, P.O. Box 181, Eureka, MO 63025; or to the Knights of Columbus Tri-Cities Council, 4225 Old Alton Road, Granite City, IL 62040, or may be accepted at the funeral home; irwinchapel.com.