Many people who grew up with former Councilman Carlo “Rocky” Leone, as both a colleague and a mentor, reflected on his life and career at a memorial service August 17.
Leone served as Peoria City Council’s representative for the Pine District from 1999 until this past April, when he resigned due to health issues. He ultimately passed away in June.
The memorial service, held at the St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church, was attended by many of the most important politicians and service members of the city.
Three grandchildren — Michael Loken, Barry Holdaway and Tiffany Hernandez — recalled some of their favorite memories of Leone, who was known to love his family dearly.
He “would do anything for his family,” according to Hernandez, who considered Leone to be more of a father figure than just a grandparent.
“He was the best man I could have ever known in my life,” Hernandez said.
Holdaway told stories of the late councilman coming to his grandkids’ swimming events at Peoria High School dressed in a Speedo swimsuit, eliciting a laugh from many who knew him well.
Loken reminisced about trips to California and Winslow when he was young, but also remembered how much joy his grandfather took in serving Peoria.
“He was a proud councilman. He was proud to support his city, and he talked about it with great pride whenever I’d see him. I remember how happy he was when he gave me a tour of City Hall and his office,” Loken said.
Those who worked with Leone on the council felt similarly, remembering the hard work he would do to represent his constituents in the Pine District of Peoria.
Leone was known as a runner — he would run the streets of Peoria and always get honked at by cars — as well as a boxer. Goodyear Councilwoman Wally Campbell said he took a “boxing mindset” on in his government career, too.
“He fought tirelessly for his constituents in the Pine District with distinction and honor. He was always available and they could call him any time he had a problem,” Campbell said.
Among his contributions was his strong advocacy for the Peoria Youth Council. He went door to door to talk to citizens about their concerns, but also why they loved and cherished both the Pine District and Peoria as a whole.
“Carlo connected with the community more than anyone else I’ve ever met in my entire life,” City Manager Jeff Tyne said. “He not only connected with the people in the Pine District, he knew everything about it — anywhere from a burnt-out streetlight or where the kids were hanging out.”
Leone is succeeded by four children, 13 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. They all hold his memory in a special place in their hearts.
“I love my grandfather, and miss him every single day,” Hernandez said.