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Letter: Leonard Samansky

I don’t know how often it can be said that your boss has become your close friend. But I know that I am lucky because I happened to have the best boss I could have asked for. Nearly 17 years ago, when I began working for the Village of Saddle Rock, I was introduced to Mayor Leonard Samansky. With the passing soon after of then-Village Clerk Gladys Landau, the mayor asked me to try to fill her shoes. When I informed him that I wasn’t really sure about the inner workings of a village, he responded with his nonchalance and matter-of-fact attitude, “We’ll learn to become clerk together.”

Over time, we both learned from each other. He taught me his love of politics and equality, the importance of fairness and how to ask for help. I taught him how to use a cell phone. His love for “his village” was infectious. With years under my belt as village clerk, I began to think of Saddle Rock as a second home, and, with Leonard overseeing everything, the Village Hall was built.

We fell into a routine. We would begin each morning by bringing each other up to date on the village comings and goings. He would then take one of several tours through the village, come back and share his findings. Time passed and the village grew. As more residents moved in, more phone calls came in. Leonard could often be found at his desk answering phones and trying to solve whatever problems had arisen.

With the Village Hall closed on Fridays, the weekends could be long. But I could always count on Leonard to call me Saturday night or Sunday morning with any news about Saddle Rock. I found I looked to him for advice, trusting his judgment and his integrity, knowing he would keep my secrets. In 2003, I shared with him a personal medical crisis I was going through and several years later, I found out he hadn’t even shared it with his wife, Shirley, the only person I was sure he would tell.

I knew I was in trouble if his sentence began with, “Young lady!” Thankfully, I didn’t hear it very often, because Leonard’s bad side was not one I wanted to be on! He made it okay to make mistakes, though. Whatever error I made, he always told me, “We can take care of it and learn for the next time.”

These past few months of Leonard’s illness have been hard. His presence was missed in the office; it seemed almost empty without his laugh. He would still call in the mornings for his daily catch-up, though. I visited with him shortly before his passing and his last words were, “Thank you, I love you.” They are words I will never forget, because they summed up my feelings for him perfectly.

It has been hard to find the words in just a few short paragraphs to fully explain my relationship with Leonard; I am scared I have failed him in not describing him as the perfect boss he was. I could write pages and pages of our shared memories, but I am scared even they wouldn’t properly encapsulate his humor, his passion and his life. I find peace in knowing he is in a better place, solace in knowing he is no longer in pain, and comfort in knowing that I was blessed to work for such a great man. To Leonard: Thank you, I love you.

Donna Perone, Village Clerk/Treasurer, Village of Saddle Rock