Dr. Daniel Lyons Leary, Jr., a Newburyport physician for 45 years, died in his sleep Friday July 6, 2018 after a long illness. He would have turned 80 on July 17.
Dr. Leary was the second of four boys born to the late Dr. and Mrs. Daniel L. Leary. His father was also a very popular longtime Newburyport doctor.
He was a talented student at every level, skipping a grade at St. Louis De Gonzaga grammar school. He then attended Governor Dummer Academy (now The Governor’s Academy), where he was an honor roll student and star athlete in football, lacrosse and wrestling. He was co-captain of the wrestling team. He graduated when he was 16 years old.
Dr. Leary then went to Harvard University where he again excelled in his studies and in sports. He continued wrestling at Harvard, where he also won the college’s heavyweight boxing championship.
After graduating from Harvard, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was commissioned a second lieutenant, serving at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and Camp Pendleton in California before shipping out to Vietnam in 1966 as an officer in the elite 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.
During his 13-month tour of combat duty he led more than 30 patrols deep behind enemy lines. He was an aggressive patrol leader but always concerned with the welfare of his men. He was in frequent firefights in the jungle and rice paddies, but never lost a man.
He was awarded the Bronze Star and The Vietnam Cross of Gallantry among his other decorations. He was honorably discharged as a Captain of Marines, a title he remained proud of for the rest of his life.
"When he meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he will introduce himself as Marine Captain Dan Leary,” said his brother, Kevin, a San Francisco newspaperman. “It was his proudest title."
“He was also a wonderful big brother, always available and supportive of me as a kid and a faithful best friend to me as an adult. I’ll miss him terribly.” Kevin said.
Returning to civilian life, he pursued his lifelong ambition to become a doctor and attended medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City where he graduated with honors in 1972. He completed his residency at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. N.Y.
After completing his training he returned to his hometown where his father was still practicing family medicine in his home office on High Street. Dr. Leary Jr., specialized in cardiology and internal medicine and joined Dr. Joseph Tuthill in practice. They were soon joined by Dr. Paul Mendelson, the trio forming Newburyport Medical Associates which continues on Highland Avenue under Dr. McCartney. Throughout his practice, Dr. Leary was very proud that he could care for patients that his father and, in one case, his grandmother (midwife to the Irish community) had delivered. He took very good care of his patients and was much loved by them, especially the WW II veterans. Having an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of this war (and his father having fought at Anzio), he understood the “greatest generation” and loved hearing their stories. Dr. Leary was elected to serve a term as President of the Medical Staff at Anna Jaques Hospital in the 1980’s and was a member the Active Medical Staff until his retirement.
Dr. Leary was an adventurer. As a young student. he worked on the Appalachian Mountain Club trail crew. In his youth he had worked on the oil rigs off Louisiana and cattle ranches in Venezuela. He was foreman on an archeological expedition in search of early man in Idaho. Always a vigorous outdoorsman, he climbed many of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks. His patients may not be aware that while on vacation, their doctor skydived and bungee jumped out of a hot air balloon. These adventures and many others served as the inspiration for many of the papers he wrote as a member of the historic Tuesday Night Club.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Wadleigh Leary, daughters Catherine and Elizabeth, his brother Kevin, nieces nephews and grandchildren. He is predeceased by his brothers George (in infancy) and Christopher Leary, long serving president of the Newburyport City Council.
Family and friends may call on Wednesday July 11, 2018 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the Twomey, LeBlanc, & Conte Funeral Home 193 High St. Newburyport, MA 01950. Parking available behind the Funeral Home. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 AM on Thursday July 12, 2018 at Immaculate Conception Church followed by burial at St. Mary Cemetery both in Newburyport.
In Lieu of Flowers, donations can be made to the Pregnancy Care Center and the Fisher House Foundation.