Legion to memorialize chaplain
American Legion Post 516 in Hollidaysburg plans to memorialize the late Father Anthony Legarski for his service in the U.S. military and to the local community.
Legarski, a Somerset native, served as a United States Navy chaplain from 1991-99, tasked to a Marine Corps outfit. He was honorably discharged from active duty with the rank of lieutenant commander. He had been ordained a priest in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in 1983, returning after his service. Legarski, who was known to many as Father Tony, became pastor of the St. Mary Parish in Hollidaysburg in 2005. He passed away in 2019.
Joe Dodson, president of Post 516 Board of Directors, said the Legion will unveil a memorial for Legarski at Patriot Park in Hollidaysburg in mid-October.
“We want to honor a veteran who not only gave eight years of his life to the service,” Dodson said, “but who was always there to help people.”
He said Legarski was always involved in events for veterans: He was a Legionnaire at Post 516 and would give the invocation at the borough’s Memorial Day Parade. He said Legarski was a speaker at Patriot Park’s opening in 2011.
Hollidaysburg Police Chief Rodney Estep said Legarski was someone he “could always count on.” Police sometimes face challenges that don’t have a legal answer nor can be ameliorated through social services whose resources are limited, he said.
“Father Legarski always told us, ‘If you have a problem, just call me and I’ll see what I can do,'” Estep said.
One time, Estep called looking for help with a man who was homeless. Legarski told Estep to meet him at the rectory. When Estep arrived, Legarski gave him $100 to put the man in a hotel for the night. Legarski added that if the man needed anything else, to be in touch.
“I’ll bet that ten times in my career, it was two or three o’clock in the morning and we were just out of options,” Estep said. “And boy, was it nice to be able to call him.”
Dodson said, like Patriot Park, the memorial will be funded entirely through donations. Any money left over will be used to maintain the park, which he said is “self-sufficient.”
Mirror Staff Writer Dom Cuzzolina is at 946-7428.