Emergency Management Director James LeBlanc mourned in the area
In Leominster, the city’s Emergency Management Office and James “Jimmy” LeBlanc went hand in hand.
The longtime Leominster resident has volunteered with the agency for more than five decades, serving as deputy director for many years until he was appointed director in July 2018.
From his office at the Emergency Management Headquarters on Carter Street, LeBlanc made sure Leominster was prepared in the event of a single disaster, terrorism or pandemic.
“I enjoy working with all of our municipal departments and volunteers while developing relationships,” LeBlanc told the Léominster Champion in April 2020. “For me, the public service side comes into my family of uncles, brothers and nephews who have worked in the police and firefighters, so it is my contribution to emergency management.”
Some of LeBlanc’s contributions have gone well beyond Leominster, such as the Emergency Management Canteen, which is a staple at local fire scenes. The canteen, commissioned for the first time in 1982, reduces injuries to firefighters due to the head, cold or exhaustion.
So when LeBlanc passed away on September 30 at the age of 75, the news resonated both in and around Leominster.
Local fire departments and emergency management services offered their condolences on their Facebook pages. An article on the Fitchburg Emergency Management Agency Facebook page called LeBlanc “a giant in the emergency management community and a great guy in every way.”
Public safety personnel from across the region lined the route of LeBlanc’s funeral procession on Wednesday, October 6.
“Knowing James LeBlanc and learning from him was by far learning from the best,” recalled on Facebook Valerie Dupont-Brennan, who was deputy director of Leominster. “He was one of, if not the most amazing, people I have ever had the honor and privilege to know, volunteer and learn from. A great man is now at rest. Rest well, Jim! You taught us well and we will make you proud.
James Raymond LeBlanc was both on January 30, 1946 from Raymond and Doris (LaPierre) LeBlanc. After graduating from Leominster Trade High School in 1965, he married his high school girlfriend, Carol Person. They are said to have celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary this month.
LeBlanc began working at Foster Grant as a draftsman in 1965, the start of a 50-year career in the plastics and optical industries. He retired as vice president of engineering at Foster Grant’s successor company, Fosta-Tek.
When he was appointed Director of Emergency Management in July 2018, it marked the culmination of a 52-year volunteer journey. He learned many aspects of the job along the way, from incident command and project management to hazardous materials operations.
In 1967, LeBlanc was a member of the committee that developed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training for the Heart Association. He has trained more than 1,500 people in 17 years in two countries.
In addition to his emergency management volunteer work, LeBlanc was a member of the Leominster Auxiliary Police and its motorcycle squad. He was a licensed medical technician, a member of the LEMA divers and a scuba diving instructor.
LeBlanc has been recognized by groups ranging from the American Legion and the Rotary Club to the Massachusetts legislature for his rescue efforts. He was named 2015 Starburst Citizen of the Year in recognition of his decades of service.
Donations in memory of James “Jimmy” LeBlanc can be made to the Emergency Management Canteen, 37 Carter Street, Leominster, MA 01453. Memories can be left on the Richardson Funeral Home website, richardsonfuneralhome.net.