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Leonard J. Wasserman, a former Oregon mayor and councilman who oversaw improvements in the city's wastewater treatment system, died Monday in his home in Oregon. He was 87.
He died after a three-year battle with cancer, said his son, Joe. He underwent successful treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphona, then was diagnosed with acute leukemia about a month ago, his son said.
A Democrat, Mr. Wasserman was a three-term Oregon mayor. When elected in 1975, he was the sixth person to hold the office after the community became a city in 1957. He was mayor until 1981, when he lost to Steve Toth.
During his six years as mayor, the city began planning for a safety-municipal building.
“He was one of those old-time, civic-minded persons who cared tremendously about the community,” said Michael Dansack, Jr., Oregon mayor from 1989 to ’93.
Mr. Wasserman entered city politics in 1965 when he was elected to a council ward seat. He served three more two-year terms and decided against running for a fifth term in 1973. However, he was appointed by then-Mayor Carlton Hass to a vacancy on council in 1974.
Mike Sheehy, a city councilman from 1993 to 2013 who now represents Oregon in the Ohio House of Representatives, said Mr. Wasserman was mayor while the city made improvements to the wastewater plant and was instrumental in getting the city's recreation department and programs started.
“He was a dedicated public servant,” he said.
Mr. Sheehy said when he first ran for council in 1993, Mr. Wasserman accompanied him in the neighborhoods and introduced him to people he knew in the community. “It was a great opportunity for meeting people in Oregon, because everyone in the community knew Leonard,” he said.
Mr. Wasserman made a bid for a return to politics in 1993 when he ran for mayor, but lost to James Haley, who was re-elected as a write-in candidate.
Mr. Wasserman worked at the Oregon Pure Oil plant for 22 years. When the refinery closed in 1969, he was offered a chance to transfer to California, Illinois, or Texas, but elected to stay in the area. He became chief engineer at the Sacred Heart Home for the Aged on Navarre Avenue where he worked for 24 years, retiring in 1993.
Mr. Wasserman was born March 23, 1926, near Genoa to Marie and William Wasserman. He attended Olney High School and dropped out to join the Army at age 17. Mr. Wasserman said his father lied about his age to get into the military and was among the troops that liberated Italy during World War II.
After the war, he earned his diploma, he said.
Mr. Wasserman married the former Bernadine Marciniak in 1952. She died Dec. 17, 2010. He married the former Wilma Cuthbertson on Feb. 14, 2013.
He was a parishioner at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, where he was a lector, Eucharistic minister, and member of the Holy Name Society.
Surviving are his wife, Wilma; sisters, Rita Boes, Dorothy Dippman, Elsie Dippman, Viola Gahler, Angela Dunn, Jane Cajak, Anna Mae Sattler, and Verna Konesky; brother, Leo; daughters, Mary J. Wasserman, Theresa Romano, Susan J. Kline, Rosanne Beaverson, Patricia Zimmerman, and Ann Pumphrey; sons, Joe and Gerry; 22 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday and 2-9 p.m. Thursday in the Freck Funeral Chapel, 1155 S. Wynn Rd., Oregon, where a Rosary will be recited at 4 p.m. Thursday. Veteran services will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday. Visitation will continue at 9:15 a.m. Friday, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Ignatius.
The family suggests tributes to the church or to Little Sisters of the Poor.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.
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