2001-03-03 / Front Page

A Tribute To Leon Locke He Did It His Way

& Howard Schwach
By Joan Ward George

A Tribute To Leon Locke
He Did It His Way

LEON LOCKE, 1943-2001LEON LOCKE, 1943-2001

Being the publisher of the oldest community newspaper in New York City was a job that Wave publisher Leon Locke did not take lightly. Logging over 80 hours a week on a slow week, Leon was rarely far away from his desk at The Wave. Rockaway residents could always expect to see Leon at his desk or scooping out stories from his favorite chair in the front window of The Wave building. He was always ready to discuss community problems, Rockaway history or politics with any person who dropped by and asked for his attention.

In the early 50’s, the Brooklyn-born Locke and his family became summer visitors to Rockaway. They came back to their "summer home" each summer until 1969, when they took up permanent residency.

As with many non-natives of the peninsula, Locke not only set up a home in Rockaway, but he became a fixture in Rockaway activism as well, taking over a business and volunteering for many community revitalization efforts. Over the past two decades, Locke strove to make Rockaway a better place to live for all of the peninsula’s residents.

This past October, Locke celebrated 26 years as publisher of The Wave and he had devoted an equal time in service to the Rockaway community. He was a member of Community Board 14 for more than 20 years, the festival chairman of the Rockaway Music and Arts Council for several years and sat on the organization’s Board of Directors. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Rockaway Museum, which is housed in The Wave building. Locke also sat on the board of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce and was a founding member of the Peninsula Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He served on the Board of Directors of the New York Press Association and was honored as the Deputy Grand Marshal of the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1987.

Never afraid to make his opinion known or to back a less than popular stand, Locke often found himself on the defense, fighting for what he believed was best for Rockaway. His philanthropic efforts on behalf of the community may not be well known, yet the plaques that can be seen from floor to ceiling on the walls of his office testify to the support that he gave his community.

Locke’s true "second home" was at sea. A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard (aboard the cutter "Rockaway") Locke and his wife Susan spent many of their vacations about the HMS Queen Elizabeth 2, touring six of the seven continents (they only missed Antarctica, Locke would say). Their yearly cruise became a major event, to be enjoyed and relived with friends and coworkers.

Locke was a inveterate Mets fan, with a capital "F", never missing an opening day or a big game. He brought the Mets to readers of The Wave by offering free game tickets to lucky readers.

His wife, Susan, will sorely miss him as will his family and the community that he served, but he will be missed as well for his sage counsel, his wit and his judgment by those who worked for him and with him.

Goodbye old friend.

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