Leo saw music as great leveller

The late Leo Foy pictured on his 80th birthday.
The late Leo Foy pictured on his 80th birthday.

Leo Foy, a man known all over Ireland for his love of music and strong Christian faith, has passed away at the age of 82.

He was born on August 11, 1931, to Thomas and Margaret Foy. He was one of six children who grew up in Marley Street in Portadown. His five siblings are Harry, Tommy, the late Eddie, the late Eileen and Annaleen.

Leo began his singing career in the Regal Picture House in Portadown and by 1946 he was singing in Portadown Town Hall as a boy soprano.

He would sing everywhere and anywhere, whether it was the Royal British Legion or the Irish National Foresters’ club. He also sung around care homes at Christmas time.

His favourite genre was country music but he also loved church hymns with ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ being his signature tune.

Leo married Patricia on July 14, 1960. Having lived in both Lurgan and Portadown the family have been in Craigavon for more than 30 years.

Patricia gave Leo six children - Martin, Anita, Annemarie, Margaret, Leo and Deborah - and the couple also have 18 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Leo, a well-respected gentleman right across Ireland, worked various jobs, including a stint on the railways, in a textile factory and at a nursery supplying flowers to sellers in the town centre.

A man of great faith, Leo saw music as the great leveller.

His son Martin said: “It was all about the music with dad. He was a man of great faith who respected different faiths and was equally comfortable singing and sharing a joke with people from all different communities and backgrounds.

His daughter Deborah added: “He was still singing up until a year ago. It’s hard to remember all the groups he was in, he was in that many.”

Leo was a volunteer for over 30 years at St Martin’s Chapel in Ardowen, known as The Wee Hut.

He was a very religious man who wrote a lot to the Pope. He kept letters and medals from each reigning Pope.

He was given the Mayor’s Award for 50 years of community service and also got a Carer’s Award from the William Keown Trust for his dedicated care of his wife Patricia and daughter Annemarie.

Family was very important to Leo, and coming from a musical family he will be looking down and smiling as his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren carry on the musical tradition.

He was a great man for jokes and his sense of humour is something that is also carried on by his family.

Martin said: “Dad was a great man for jokes. He was always smiling, he was never down. The turn out at his funeral showed how respected he was.”

Leo passed away on April 3 and his funeral took place last Sunday (April 6) at St Anthony’s. His Month’s Mind Mass takes place on May 3.