Michael J. Leonardo Sr., 47 of Fairhaven died Friday, Sept. 3, 2004, when the fishing vessel Nancy Christine sank off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. He was the husband of Deborah A. (Scott) Leonardo.
Born in New Bedford, the son of Natalie (Vieira) Leonardo of New Bedford and the late Andrew F. Leonardo, he grew up in the city and moved to Fairhaven 25 years ago.
Mr. Leonardo was a 1975 graduate of Bishop Stang High School and had worked as a fisherman for 30 years on various area vessels including his own. He loved the sea and was the Fairhaven shellfish warden for a brief period of time. He enjoyed spending time with his family, woodworking, carpentry and working on automobiles.
Survivors include his widow; his mother; a son Michael J. Leonardo Jr. of New Bedford; two daughters, Jennifer L. Leonardo and Samantha D. Leonardo, both of Fairhaven; a brother, Robert J. Leonardo of Fall River; two grandsons, Sean Thatcher Jr. and Michael J. Leonardo III; and stepchildren, Valerie Aspden, Kent Aspden and David Aspden.
His memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Seamen's Bethel, New Bedford.
The Nancy Christine capsized and sank on the evening of September 4, 2004, in Nantucket Sound. The crew had been fishing for sea clams. Captain Bill Manthorne, on the fishing boat Tunacious, had cruised past the Nancy Christine and seen nothing unusual. Moments later, he saw a puff of white smoke above the vessel. Within minutes, it had flipped over. The Coast Guard sent two rescue boats, a cutter, and a helicopter, but they found only a circular flotation device and no sign of the crew. The search continued, and State Police divers joined the Coast Guard, but the captain, Wayne Ingham, and crew member Michael Leonardo were not found.