Leonard W. “Gig” Stephens, 87, a life-long resident of North Reading, died peacefully at his home on May 19, 2014. He was the son of the late Angelina (Borges) and Peter R. Stephens.
He was a 1941 graduate of the North Reading Public School System, he attained an MBA degree in National and International Air Cargo, Rail, Surface and Waterway Transportation from LaSalle University and Northwestern University.
Leonard was a U.S. Navy, World War II Veteran, having served in the North Atlantic theatre of Operations as a Gunners Mate aboard a “Liberty Ship.”
Gig was a 30-year airline executive, Massachusetts Registry Official and professional race car owner and driver. He was a former owner and founder of McDonalds Associates Detective Agency in Boston in 1960.
He established the first “turbo-prop” scheduled All-Cargo Air service in New England and appeared in Who’s/ Who in Aviation, 1973 Edition.
He was Instrumental in Governor Edward J. King’s election campaign; a life member of Boston Fireman’s Post No. 94; D.A.V Post No. 37 of Reading; USAC Charter Member (U.S. Auto Club) and an active member of several Republican Committees in Washington, which elected President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
Gig’s love was in professional race car competition and antique car restoration. He completed his “Rookie Drivers Test” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May of 1956. On July 26, 1959, he broke the world’s speed record for Midgets at Trenton New Jersey Speedway, starting in 33rd position.
Family members include his loving nieces, Marilyn “Peachie” Stephens Sakaleras of Bradenton, FL; Paula Stephens Hammer of Lilburn, GA; Shirley Stephens White of Bartlett, NH; Donna Stephens Lynch of Rochester, NH; a nephew, Thomas P. Stephens of Alton Bay, NH and a very dear friend from Houston, TX.
His funeral will be held from the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow St., North Reading on Saturday, May 24 at 9:15 a.m., followed by a 10:30 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Theresa’s Church, 63 Winter St. (Rt. 62), North Reading, Calling hours will be held on Friday, May 23, from 4 to 8 PM. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery in North Reading.
Memorial donations may be made in his memory to: Care Dimensions (Hospice), 75 Sylvan St., Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923.