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Donald LeBlanc dies, retired NYC police officer was 85

Donald LeBlanc died of cancer May 29, 2015,

Donald LeBlanc died of cancer May 29, 2015, surrounded by family at his Merrick home. He was 85.

Donald LeBlanc poured his heart into his family, selflessly dedicated his time to his job as a New York City police officer and loved to help others.

"He did nothing but help people his whole life," said his son Gerard LeBlanc, 52.

The elder LeBlanc, a retired former police association president, father and doting husband, died of cancer May 29 surrounded by family at his Merrick home. He was 85.

J. Donald LeBlanc was born on July 7, 1929, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn to Mary Starr, a Greek immigrant from Athens, and Robert LeBlanc, a French-American.

Donald LeBlanc graduated in 1947 from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn where he met his future wife, Shirley Howe. The high school sweethearts were married for 65 years.

LeBlanc attended Brooklyn College for two years where he majored in criminal justice before relocating to California after being drafted into the Air Force in 1950 to fight in the Korean War.

His wife followed him shortly afterward and took a job at the base in Riverside, California, working for a colonel so the couple wouldn't be apart.

He was discharged as a sergeant from the Air Force in 1952. That year, LeBlanc and his wife moved back to New York, where they settled in Brooklyn. His older brother, Robert, an NYPD detective first grade working in the 69th Precinct in Brooklyn at the time, persuaded LeBlanc to join the force in 1953. LeBlanc did and retired in 1973 as a plainclothes detective from the 60th Precinct in Brooklyn.

Richie Ornstein, vice president of the New York Veteran Police Association, knew for LeBlanc more than two decades and served alongside him when LeBlanc was president of the organization for more than 40 years.

Ornstein described LeBlanc as a "super gentleman" and well-respected cop.

"Donald was a heroic cop making quite a few thousand arrests when he was on the force," Ornstein said. Ornstein credited LeBlanc, who stepped down from the police association two years ago, with bringing fitness legend Jack LaLanne to the Veteran Police Association, naming him fitness director.

"Donald kept the organization extremely tight," Ornstein said, adding LeBlanc was "instrumental" in getting cost-of-living adjustments added to the pensions of rank-and-file officers as president of the organization.

Gerard LeBlanc said he admired his father since he was a child and sought to emulate the way his dad carried himself.

LeBlanc recalled not letting his father in the house one time because his undercover stings would make him look unrecognizable.

"He had an interesting career. He loved the police department, I mean right until the end, always talked about it," LeBlanc said.

Donald LeBlanc also was known for leaving his wife love notes if he left the house for whatever reason, including going to the store to pick up a newspaper or a prescription.

LeBlanc's dedication for his family and his job influenced his four sons to join public service. Gerard LeBlanc retired as a plainclothes officer from the NYPD two years ago after 29 years on the job.

In addition to his wife and son, Donald LeBlanc is survived by three other sons, Donald of Merrick; Glenn of Bellmore, and David of Prescott, Arizona; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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