LeRoy Chase, president of the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley and a much loved advocate for youth and families, has died following a lengthy illness. He was 73.
Chase passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 27, in the Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Los Angeles. He had spent the past 11 months hospitalized there or in Kaiser Permanente because of respiratory and liver ailments.
A lifelong resident of the Valley, Chase was known and well respected for being an important voice in the community. It was because of Chase that for so many years, even during difficult financial times, the San Fernando/Pacoima Boys & Girls Club was kept open.
He often worked until the late hours of the evening, and began his days in the early hours of the morning. A dignified man who kept his family close, he understood that for many disadvantaged children the club was needed as their extended family. Both his family’s horse ranch, The Monte Verde Ranch and the Boys & Girls Club were his passions.
“As a father, my dad was extremely supportive, said Nicole, but he was also the most difficult boss I ever worked for, because of his vision [of the club] and expectations of me…but in those expectations he would give you direction, support, resources, and encouragement. And every time, after being reprimanded by him, he would turn around and say ‘Nicole, you’re doing a good job.’ My dad always believed in family. That was the core, the center of everything. He always wanted to have parties so family could come.
“The Club, and the horse ranch are part of his legacy. He spent 52 years building up the club from a storefront to the building we are in now. I think he was the second executive director, from when the doors opened in 1966. Dad got there in 1967-68. But he never left
Chase had been director of the club, located in Pacoima, since 1968. He helped oversee its growth from a small storefront building — then known as just the Boys Club — into a multi-structure facility that was built in the mid-1980s.
“He was an amazing man and an awesome father,” said daughter Nicole Chase, acting president of the club. “He was more committed to this community than I think most people knew. He believed in giving the young people the best. Nothing secondhand, it was about the best.
“He would fight tooth and nail to keep the club doors open. There were many times we were close to closing the doors, but he would figure something out. He did whatever he could to keep the club open. And he always wanted to give more.”
Severyn Aszkenazy, Chairman of the Board for the Boys & Girls Club and a long time friend of Chase pointed out that it’s rare when someone works at one location for over half a century but that’s what Chase did with a driving commitment.
“He will be dearly missed, he served the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley for over 50 years with sincerity, courage and endurance.”
“Hearing of LeRoy’s passing was heartbreaking, said L.A. Council President Herb Wesson. “He was so much more than a friend to me and we are all better to have known him in this life.”
LA Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez wrote, ““I am saddened by the news of LeRoy’s passing. He was a pillar in our community with decades of service, and his legacy will live on through the lives he has touched.”
“He was a character, but a good guy,” said Hector Rodriguez, the Boys & Girls Club Facilities Manager.
“I’ve known him about 46 years. I was five and going to the Boys Club. He has always been a father figure. Always a mentor father figure. He even went with me when I went to go shopping for an engagement ring for my wife.”
Rodriguez started working at the club 32 years ago, first as a youth worker at the old building, and now as the facilities manager. “He called me his ‘righthand man’ when he introduced me to people.
“LeRoy took charge. He was the lead man on everything with the club. I hope we can finish his dream of adding an addition to what we have now. It will be geared more toward school and learning, not just fun and games.
“This man was here for the community. He always put the community first.
He’d say ‘We pay the same amount of taxes, should get the same amount of services as other [Valley] clubs.’ “When people see me, the first thing they would ask is ‘how is Mr. Chase doing,’ and then tell me how much he did for them. He will be a tough person to replace,” Rodriguez said.
Chase is survived by wife Shirin Chase; daughters Kymberly, Nicole and Danielle; mother Ruth Smith; brother Daryl Smith; sister Barbara Jung; three grandchildren, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and cousins.
Funeral arrangements were pending at press time.
Donations for the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando were accepted on “Giving Tuesday.” People can still donate by visiting crowdrise.com.