Leonard Charles DeFranco (June 15, 1929 - May 11, 2023)

In loving memory of
Leonard Charles DeFranco
  • June 15, 1929
  • -
  • May 11, 2023

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Obituary

Leonard Charles DeFranco of Naples Florida, formerly of Cleveland Ohio, departed this life on May 11, 2023. He was born June 15, 1929, in Cleveland, Ohio to Antonio J. DeFranco and Ella Filomena DeFranco (Frabotta).

Leonard proudly served in the Navy during the Korean War. His love for aircraft began early in Cleveland where he met Cook Cleland, a Navy aviator based out of Akron, who started pylon racing, flying “super corsairs.”  As part of Cleland’s team, they won the Thompson Trophy Race in 1947 and in 1949.

On March 31, 1951, Leonard enlisted in the Navy as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Engine Mechanic, Airman. He became part of VF-653, a Naval Air Reserve squadron from Akron, Ohio, and was stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge. He was then a 22-year-old squadron mechanic in support of F4U Corsairs, and again with pilots like Cook Cleland.

Throughout the years, his love for aviation continued as he “served” as Crew Chief to the ‘Korean War Hero,’ a F4U Corsair flown by good friend, Jim Tobul. He would often travel to various Air Shows, sharing his experience and teaching people about the plane he knew so well and loved.

Leonard was a special craftsman of many construction trades and owned his own excavation and construction company. He enjoyed aviation, boating, cooking, dancing, and ice hockey.

Leonard is preceded in death by his brothers, Carl, Pasquale, and Jack (John). He is survived by his wife, Charlotte DeFranco, children Janet Gustovich (George), Julie Bricker (Glen), Anthony DeFranco (Veronica), Lisa Johnson (Donald), and brother Antonio J DeFranco Jr. Also survived by his brother-in-law Charles Luck (Marion) and stepchildren Douglas Vidmar (Renee) and Dale Vidmar (Margaret).  Proud father to faithful dog companion, Charlie.

He is also survived by grandchildren Jonathan, Daniel (Katie), Christina and Catherine. He leaves behind in Special Friendships, Larry, Jim, Nancy, Grady, Walter, Ed and Dennis.  Preceded in death by Special Friend, Lenny B.

A Celebration of Life will be held in the future.  Blue skies Lenny.


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  1. Mona lit a candle:
    08 May 2024
    Lit since May 8, 2024 at 5:21:50 PM

  2. Mona says:
    08 May 2024
    Miss you so very much Papa San.
    I'm bringing home some ribbons like the old days when we did shows.
    Blue skies forever ❤️

  3. Rose-Mary lit a candle:
    18 May 2023
    Lit since May 18, 2023 at 5:40:48 AM

  4. Cindy Cassano says:
    17 May 2023
    Dear Lisa ( and Janet and Julie and Anthony)
    I am so very sorry for the loss of your father. When you feel the wind or look to the sky know that Len is with you.
    All my love, Cindy Cassano

  5. Darlene Coppola lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:24:33 PM

  6. Dan Bulat lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:39:51 PM

  7. Maria DeFranco lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:20:42 PM

  8. Maria DeFranco lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:19:55 PM

  9. Maria DeFranco lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:18:09 PM

  10. Homer lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:41:51 PM

  11. Dale Mcdaniel lit a candle:
    17 May 2023
    Lit since May 17, 2023 at 5:56:37 PM

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