Leonardo “Lenny” Rodriguez, 92, of Springfield, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family at his home. Lenny was born in 1928 in Westfield to immigrant parents from Spain. When he was 4 years old, Lenny returned with his parents to Spain, where he was raised. In 1950, hoping to make a better life for him and his wife-to-be, Lenny moved back to the U.S., where he soon joined the army, rising quickly in the ranks to second lieutenant and fighting at the front lines in the Korean War. Lenny did not like to talk much about the horrors of the Korean War, but he fought with valor, earning several medals of honor, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. After the war, Lenny returned to Spain to marry his sweetheart, Maria del Carmen Seoane, who would be his wife for over 65 years, and who was at his side when he passed.
Lenny and Maria returned to Westfield in 1954 to raise a family. Lenny worked many years as a court interpreter, the first Spanish interpreter in western Massachusetts, initially at the Westfield District Court, then District Courts throughout the county, where he stayed until his retirement in 1997. Lenny was known throughout the court system as a warm and friendly man who could be relied on and someone who always treated everyone involved in the court process, including victims, families and defendants, with respect. Lenny likewise earned the respect of the many lawyers and judges with whom he worked.
Lenny was very active in the Catholic Church, first at St. Mary’s Parish in Westfield, and then at Holy Cross in Springfield. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus for many years, rising to the rank of Grand Knight. He was also fully active in the Cursillo movement providing leadership and serving his God and his fellow man. Lenny made many close friends through his work and through Cursillo; friends who remain close to this day.
One of Lenny’s greatest enjoyments was fishing. He grew up fishing in Spain and continued fishing at Westfield’s local streams and ponds, where he would use that time to reflect and talk with God. After he was diagnosed with cancer in 1981, he began annual bluefish fishing events which he used to strengthen the bonds among the male members of his extended family and with close friends (some of whom weathered the ocean waves better than others). And although the fish he caught may not have been as big as he claimed, he did catch his fair share.
Above all, Family and Faith meant everything to Lenny. Although he worked hard all his life, usually at two jobs to provide for his family’s health and happiness, he always had time for his family. Lenny always believed that it was important for the family to eat their meals together and he especially enjoyed the large family meals on the weekend, when family members would take their time and sit and enjoy the conversation. His greatest joys, however, were his many grandchildren, each of whom he loved in their own special way, giving endearing nicknames, joking and playing games, and giving (and receiving) lots of hugs. Lenny was accepting and loving of all into his family, whether through marriage or blood and was proud of the love they all shared. As it has for so many people, COVID made the last nine months difficult as the family was unable to get together for the large family gatherings that he loved so much.
Lenny is survived by his wife of 66 years, Maria del Carmen (Seoane); his children, Maria Flora Rodriguez - Maleck and her husband, Paul; Dr. Irene Rodriguez-M. and her partner; Dr. Isabelina Baez-Rodriguez and her wife, Priscilla (Baez); Leonard and his wife, Laura (Carolus); and Daniel and his wife, Josephine (Sears), 15 loving grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews.
Lenny will be remembered as a gentle, patient and compassionate man, of dignity and humility; strong in his faith, quick with a smile and a hug, and willing to provide an encouraging word or help anyone in need. He shared his faith with others through his actions as well as his words and helped them strengthen their own. He treated everyone with love and respect, and in turn earned the love and respect of all he encountered. He will be forever loved and forever missed by those who knew him and who are better for having known him.
A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday January 28, 2021, at Holy Cross Church, 221 Plumtree Rd., Springfield, MA 01118. A private burial service with Military Honors will follow. Masks, social distancing and reduced numbers at the Holy Cross Church will be in effect due to COVID 19. The family would like to express their extreme gratitude to Lenny’s personal caregivers, Luz, Delila and Glorimar for their loving services during these last few months and also the staff from Beacon Hospice. In lieu of flowers, as Lenny supported many charities of different kinds, please make a donation in his name to the charity that is near and dear to your heart.
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