Personal memories: Leo Pinckney, 89, Central New York sports legend, dies in Auburn
I first met Leo Pinckney in Auburn in Novemver of 2000. But it was like I met him many years before through the great Syracuse newspaper sports writers I knew and worked with.
Leo, who had been ill the past year, died early Monday morning at Auburn Memorial Hospital. He had been taken to the hospital from his Auburn home in an ambulance when he complained of difficulty in breathing. He had been in an out of the hospital this past year.
I had been reading his column for many years in the Citizen. However I met him personally when I was asked, by Leo's good friend, Chuck Savage to join a rollicking group of Auburn old-timers who meet every morning at the Auburn Family Restaurant for coffee and doughnuts.
This group, of 70 and 80 year olds, give themselves a romantic name. They call themselves the ROMEOS. It means: Retired Old Men Eating Out.
The legendary group had been around for more than 20 years.
It is composed of more than 12 to 15 of some of Auburn's most prominent citizens-- although they will laugh when I call them this. But there are lawyers, city clerks, former Syracuse U football players--the whole range of Auburn citizenry, and, of course, Leo Pinckney.
The leader, until he died, a few years ago was William "Billy" McKeon, a power in Auburn and Central NY politics for many years and former New York State Democratic Chairman.
I was honored to join the group. Although I now live in Auburn, I grew up in Syracuse and spent 30 years in Washington. They let the bars down and let me in.
Leo certainly shared the leadership role with McKeon. All political questions were directed at Billy. Leo handled the sports questions.