At 6 feet, 6 inches, Thomas Leahy was a commanding presence, but his impact in the Vernon Hills area had more to do with his personality and involvement in the community than his height.
Leahy was vice chairman of the board for American Hotel Register Co., a 153-year old family business he helped guide from a local printer to a powerhouse international distribution company and integral part of the community.
The Mettawa resident died Monday at home. He was 73.
American Hotel Register, the largest national distributor of hospitality products, is known for its colorful array of international flags at its headquarters on Route 21. But it has also been a community partner since its arrival in Vernon Hills in 1998.
"In all the years I've known him, he was very accessible," Mayor Roger Byrne said. "You'd call him on his cellphone and get a response in short order."
Leahy was easily identifiable at the events he supported or spearheaded, including the annual Pipe City Lacrosse Festival, the largest in the Midwest, which is held on company grounds.
He served as grand marshal of the village's 2015 Fourth of July parade, an example of how those who knew him said his personality matched his physical size.
"While he loved to laugh, Tom was generous, decisive, visionary," reads his obituary. He also was a man of action who made a difference in the lives of family, friends, employees, his church and the community at large.
Leahy also was a storyteller with vast travel experiences to share, and he was described as fun to be around. It was his role in the family business that shaped his character.
"Tom was a true business advocate, well known for his passion, friendliness, and knowledge," said Carol Levin, spokeswoman for the GLMV Chamber of Commerce.
Leahy for many years was heavily involved in the chamber, she added. The company was named business of the year in 2008 and he receive many accolades "for his numerous contributions to enhance both chamber and community," according to Levin.
During his career he served as chairman of the board of Advocate Condell Medical Center, president and board member of the Transportation Management Association and board director of the Lake County YMCA.
Leahy and his brother, Jim, and late brother, Patrick, were the company's third-generation owners. With his brothers, Leahy was instrumental in transforming the company.
Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at American Hotel Register Co., 100 S. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills. Funeral services and burial will be private. Instead of flowers, donations can be made to the Virginia K. Leahy Charitable Foundation, 100 S. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills.
For details, visit www.donnellanfuneral.com or call (847) 675-1990.