Len Naumovich, the beloved father-in-law of Tom Mann, the researcher who helped me so faithfully with my blogsite and book, has died. Fortunately, I got to meet and interview Len a few years ago, thanks to Tom and his wife Mary, Len’s oldest daughter.
I first met Len and his brother Joe in May 2012 at our “Lithuanians in Springfield” historical marker dedication in Enos Park. The brothers told me of their memories living around the corner from my Lithuanian immigrant great aunt, Mary Yamont. Later, I was able to include the story of Len and Joe’s “immigrant childhood” on this blog and in my book, “A Century of Lithuanians in Springfield, Illinois.” But there is so much more than I ever knew about Len in the obituary (below), written by his loving family.
Please join me in offering them our sympathy–and in celebrating a remarkable life. You might also want to re-read my blog post about Len’s immigrant childhood and his musically talented Lithuanian coal-mining immigrant dad–also named Len.
From the Illinois State Journal-Register, March 6, 2019
Len Naumovich 1926 – 2019
With his beloved wife, Jean, Len raised 10 kids, earned the admiration of 10 in-laws, served as a role model for 32 grandchildren, and was adored by 22 great-grandchildren. A patriarch who never sought to rule, but rather to inspire with kindness and acts of endless generosity.
Len served his country in the Marine Corps, a sterling representative of the “Greatest Generation”. Before he retired in 1992, Len had a successful career at Sangamo Electric, and later at CWLP, but he worked even harder for his family. That was his calling. His passion.
Len built homes from the foundation up. Figuratively, yes, but literally as well. In his hammer-swinging and frame-raising days, he and his brother, Joe, constructed more than a dozen houses for family and friends. It was never his occupation, rather something he did on evenings and Saturdays because the people he loved needed someplace to live.
These houses serve as monuments to that heart that never did give out. As do the bookcases, tool benches, decks, sheds, pantries, and fences he built. The kitchens and basements he renovated. Len never needed a blueprint, just the precise plan he concocted in his mind, that was true to a fraction of an inch. A prodigious problem solver, he was forever on call to fix a dishwasher, rewire a light socket, or get a lawn mower humming again. This is the trade of the mechanically minded. And he loved it.
A heart filled with music will never miss a beat. Len’s was always in rhythm. He played baritone and drums in the Marine Corps. He married an opera singer. He directed the choir at St. Aloysius Catholic Church through their hymns on Sundays. On Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, Len favored the victory marches of the Cyclones and Fighting Irish, but his favorite sounds of all were those his children made when playing piano, singing with the madrigals, and leading a band. He also had a soft spot for Sousa.
But it wasn’t just family. Len’s love extended to the community. The hometown he loved. He served on the board of Calvary Cemetery. He was the handyman for Villa Angela, a home for those who needed one the most. The folks at the Central Illinois Community Blood Center knew Len by name. He donated 35 gallons of platelets in his day, just because he had them and others needed them.
A heart doesn’t thrive on love alone. Physiology comes into play as well. Len was always active. Sixteen-inch softball was his game, played without gloves or pretension on the diamonds of Lake Springfield. He later took up running and, when his knees and hips had had enough, he gave them a rest and turned to walking. Walking every day down the streets of Indian Hills and around the aisles of his favorite home store. Walking until his body finally gave out; walking straight up to Heaven.
But Len’s heart has not left us, and his wish is that we do not despair. His heart is beating as strong as ever, in everyone who knows him. Family and friends. Neighbors and parishioners. Co-workers, teammates and people met on the street. Ask his caregivers, they’ll tell you. In that final victory lap, Len was as valiant as any person could be. Be sad but rejoice because there’s been a man no finer.
If you’d like to honor a life like no other, then heed the wishes he has for his family. The legacy he leaves behind: “Take care of each other. Be kind to each other. Stay active.” Do that, and you’ll live like Len.
Leonard is survived by his wife, Jean; brother, Joe Naumovich; children, Mary Ann (Tom) Mann, Barb (John) Monark, Joan Naumovich, Patricia (Esteban) Sanchez, Len (Cindy) Naumovich, Jim (Carolyn) Naumovich, Carol (Dan) Durham, Dan (Tammy) Naumovich, Nancy (Rob) Kerr, Laura (Rick) Soehnlin, 32 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.
Visitation: Family will receive friends from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, 2019, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, 2119 N. 20th St., Springfield. The visitation will begin with a prayer service at 4:00 p.m.
Funeral Mass: 10:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8, 2019, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church with Rev. Clinton P. Honkomp, OP, celebrant.
Burial will follow in Calvary Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Aloysius Catholic Parish, 2119 N. 20th Street, Springfield, IL 62702.
The family of Len Naumovich is being served by Butler Funeral Home-Springfield, 900 S. 6th St. Springfield.
Please visit butlerfuneralhomes.com to offer your condolences.
Published in Print in The State Journal-Register from Mar. 6 to Mar. 7, 2019