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Franklin County businessman remembered for commitment to community

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FORT COVINGTON - Ask anyone who knew Phillip L. Leroux, who died on Saturday of a sudden heart attack at age 71, and they will tell you that the local community has lost a leader, a benefactor, a friend and much, much more.

Many remember Mr. Leroux as a man who wore multiple hats, including having served as a county legislator, Fort Covington town supervisor, volunteer firefighter, and owner and president of Leroux Oil, Inc.

His nephew and co-worker, Tony Leroux, said his uncle was a sharp businessman who “always knew what was going on with everything.

“He was the anchor to this company – the captain,” he said, adding that his uncle would easily slide back-and-forth between professional and personal mode, lending a friendly ear to his workers whenever they needed a sounding board.

Phil Leroux founded his company in 1974 when he purchased Howard Tuper’s fuel oil business in Fort Covington; he made his home the company’s main office for the first 10 years. He went on to expand his oil business, acquiring MacDonald’s in 1979 and Doug’s ARCO in 1981, both in Moira. In 1986, he added quick stops to his local empire, when he opened his first in Fort Covington. He went on to buy King’s Market in Moira in 1989, the B & W Quick Stop in Brasher-Winthrop in 1990, and the St. Regis Falls Quick Stop in 1997.

“He was never a guy to just do one thing,” according to his brother, Paul Leroux.

The two worked side-by-side at Leroux’s Oil for over 35 years.

Paul Leroux said his brother was “the last of the old-time businessmen.” He said when clients would call with a problem or query “it didn’t matter if it was noon or 2 a.m., 99 percent of the time it would be him or [his wife] Dolly answering [the phone]. Customers weren’t just a number to him, they were a person,” and he knew most of them by name.

Paul Leroux said his brother was of calm temperament and possessed an uncanny ability to remain level-headed in even the most stressful of situations.

“He wasn’t a man of a lot of words, but when he said something it was worth listening to,” he said.

Jim Ellis, former chairman of the Franklin County Republican Committee, remembers Phil Leroux, who served as a county legislator from 1988 until 1991, as “a stalwart of the party.

“You could always count on him for a sharp argument, questioning things in a good way,” Mr. Ellis said. “He was fiscally conservative, but he had a good grasp of business ... and what people really needed.”

Mr. Ellis noted Mr. Leroux was instrumental in turning the old Franklin County Jail into a money-maker. The county had been spending money outsourcing inmates to surrounding jails, and Mr. Leroux’s solution was to add cell space, saving boarding fees and at the same time bringing in funds by renting the extra space to the federal government. Mr. Ellis cited as an example holding defendants wanted on federal immigration detainers.

Mr. Leroux served two terms as Fort Covington town supervisor, but perhaps his greatest connection to that community is as a philanthropist.

Current Town Councilman Paul Lauzon said when the town was looking at constructing a youth baseball field on High Street Mr. Leroux helped make it happen at no expense.

“He went down there and helped do the work and expected no pay at all,” Mr. Lauzon said. “Phil was one of the first ones to ask what he could do.”

Mr. Lauzon said Mr. Leroux sent equipment and paid a worker from his company to help construct the space and never took pay for it, explaining that this was his modus operandi.

“Not only are his family and friends going to miss him, but the community is at a great loss,” Mr. Lauzon said, who added that Mr. Leroux also gave freely in support of area Catholic churches.

Mr. Lauzon and Mr. Ellis concurred Mr. Leroux was a staunch Republican, but they said there were no party lines when it came to doing good for the community.

Mr. Leroux was also a communicant of St. Mary’s Church in Fort Covington and a member of the Parish Council. He was a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Malone Lodge of Elks, the Malone Golf and Country Club, the Highland Golf Club, and the Weller Mountain Hunting Club.

At the time of his death, he was treasurer of the Fort Covington Volunteer Fire Department and was a past president. Additionally, Mr. Leroux was a past member of the Alice Hyde Hospital Board of Directors and was benefactor of the Martin J. Leroux Health Center, named in memory of his son, Marty, who died in May 2011.

Funeral services will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church in Fort Covington. Calling hours will be held on Thursday and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7:30 to 9 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church.

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