I met LeRoy Chase when I was 9-years-old, when I enrolled myself at the Boys Club in Pacoima almost 50 years ago.
He welcomed me to the club after watching me cross a busy Van Nuys Boulevard. He let me know he wanted me to always use the crosswalk at the corner on my way to and from the club.
The first impression I had of LeRoy that day never changed. He was kindhearted and was someone to look up to. The club became my spot to play basketball and participate in other supervised activities after school.
I graduating from San Fernando High School, I attended Loyola Marymount University, joined the LA City Fire Department and then started my business in San Fernando.
I was in my thirties, married and had started my family when LeRoy recruited me to serve on the club’s Board of Directors. By that time, it was no longer just the Boy’s Club, it was the Boys & Girls Club.
Now a parent myself, it was at that time that I more fully understood the strength and value of the club in providing a safe and positive place during after-school hours and school vacation periods, when many kids may not have an adult to watch over them.
LeRoy knew he was serving families with working parents — some who worked multiple jobs, single parents, and absent parents, in one of Los Angeles’ highest poverty areas. I was one of those latchkey kids raised by a single mother who needed to work full time to support us.
Pacoima is a few miles from some of the greatest wealth on the planet. But while hardworking parents serve others, who would care for their children but organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of America in Pacoima?
LeRoy knew how important caring adults are to developing good citizens. Being involved is essential to good citizenship and community stewardship. I can thank LeRoy Chase for that lesson too.
He was appointed to several commissions and boards over his career. He showed me how important that was for my own life.
He always focused on making the community better, and I was fortunate to witness him in action.
Thank you LeRoy. May you rest in peace for your dedicated work, and the countless families and individuals you helped throughout your lifetime.
Severyn Aszkenazy is the board chairperson of the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, owner of Aszkenazy Development and co-publisher of the San Fernando Valley Sun newspaper.