On what would have been his 77th birthday, the late LeRoy Chase was honored Saturday, May 14, by an area at the intersection of Glenoaks Boulevard and Pierce Street in Pacoima named “LeRoy Chase Square.”
Chase, who served as the President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley for more than 50 years — weathering big challenges and financial storms — was praised for keeping the doors open and making a difference in many young lives. He is credited for expanding and improving the youth programs offered by the club despite various hardships.
With his friends and family including his grandchildren in attendance, LA Councilmember Monica Rodriguez and state Sen. Bob Hertzberg were among those who spoke of the impact Chase, often described as a “gentle giant with a big smile,” made in the San Fernando Valley by giving scores of kids a safe place to go.
“LeRoy Chase was the beacon of hope for many young people in the Northeast San Fernando Valley,” Rodriguez said. “Happy Heavenly Birthday, we celebrate you and honor you each and every day for the incredible dedicated service that you provided and legacy and service that continues in your name and in your honor.”
After Chase passed in November of 2018, Rodriguez said a location was selected and she began the process to create the Square in honor of his contributions, although the dedication ceremony was delayed because of the pandemic.
“His life made a lasting impact for so many of us. I got to know him as a strong community leader and his legacy continues with his family and all of the individuals whose lives he touched over generations, and the continued legacy of work at the Boys and Girls Club in Pacoima,” Rodriguez said.
Chase, along with three generations of his family, was praised for rolling up their sleeves for the club.
Daughter Nicole Chase, who worked alongside her father for many years, has taken the reins as president since her his passing. She wore her CEO Boys & Girls Club of America button for the first time at the dedication ceremony. She also wore pins and bracelets given to her that represented the faith she had for “up above, family and the community,” and her “mantra to keeping positive and moving forward.”
While thanking those who attended, she joined the chorus of people who expressed gratitude to her father. “I thank my Dad for and the energy, time and commitment he gave to this community, above and beyond,” she said.
Community Advocate Bob Winn, who worked with Chase on many issues, described Chase as having a strong constitution.
“LeRoy and I were involved in this Valley for 45 years. He was disciplined — he was always on time and did the same things the same way each and every time. We started the African American Leadership Association and it was tremendous. Thank you, LeRoy, for all of that you’ve done,” Winn said.
Chase is best known for his service to the Boys & Girls Club movement, but he was involved with many organizations. He served as interim and vice president of the Recreation and Parks Commission for the City of Los Angeles; sat on the President’s Advisory Board for California State University at Northridge; and was a commissioner on the Status of African-American Males for the state of California.
Chase was also a commissioner for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission; president of the Foothill Advisory Booster Association of the Los Angeles Police Department; and a member of the Valley Economic Development Center Board of Directors, and National Society of Fundraising Executives.
Hertzberg praised Chase for the work he did, unlike politicians, without the limelight.
“He wasn’t someone who got a lot of accolades but person-by-person there are so many stories and you can see it in the eyes of people when they talk about Chase, ” the senator said.
“He took care of so many lives and that is the essense and soul of public service. I love him, his family and love what’s he’s done for this community.”
“This is a testimony for the incredible mark he’s left,” added Rodriguez, directing her comments to the Chase family. “Thank you for sharing this man with us. Pacoima is better for it and the children of the San Fernando Valley are better for it.”
Editor Diana Martinez contributed to this article