Rochester/Conway, SC: Passed away on December 31, 2017, at age 84, near his home in Conway, SC surrounded by family members and friends. Predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Jean (Pesce) Leasure and granddaughter Jennifer Leasure. Survived by children; Cleason Jay (Eva) Leasure III, Richard (Jeanne) Leasure, Luellen (Stan Crane) Leasure, and Jeanne (Steve Levin) Leasure; grandchildren, Ryan (Nikki) Graham, Cleason Jay (Kathryn Yeager) Leasure IV, Jason (Margarita) Graham, Maggie (Andy Webster) Leasure, Jack (Kelly) Leasure, Kasey Leasure, Ben Leasure, Samantha Leasure, Anna Leasure, Benjamin Leatherwood, Madeline Levin, and Ava Levin; great grandchildren, Dorothy Leasure, Isabella Graham, Ernie Leasure, Maeda Leasure, Oscar Leasure, Arlo Leasure, Ciaran Graham, Mary Jane Leasure, Bridget Leasure, Evelyn Graham, and Beauden Leasure; siblings, Marylou Leasure Judy and Nancy Leasure Bauer.
Jay spent over 60 years in the restaurant business getting his start washing dishes at the age of 10 in his father’s restaurant in Meadville, PA. He was on his own supporting himself at the young age of 13, going to school during the day and working in restaurants after school. He later met his wife Jean at the Country Club Diner on East Avenue in Rochester in the early 1950’s; Jay a cook, and Jean a waitress. They fell in love, married and began their career together owning and operating four Rochester area restaurants including the Brookview Diner on West Henrietta Road, which they opened in 1960, and then opening Jay’s Diner on West Henrietta Road in 1966, today still a popular hangout for University of Rochester students.
In 1989, Jay and Jean opened J.J. Leasure’s restaurant, motel and banquet facility in Lakeville and then later purchased George E. France (“George’s”) Restaurant in Lima in 1994 from their good friend George France. France wanted the Leasures to take over the business when he retired knowing that in their care, George’s would continue to thrive in the local community which it has served for decades.
Throughout his career in the restaurant business, he took on leadership roles in the New York State Restaurant Association serving as Vice President and President for the Rochester chapter during the 1970’s, and awarded the NYSRA Silver Spoon award in 2001, an award for successful restauranteurs who were not born with a silver spoon, but who earned the admiration and respect of his or her peers through hard work and dedication to the industry and community.
From humble beginnings, himself, he frequently offered a helping hand to those in need, hiring several employees from a local alcohol recovery unit to help them get back on their feet. He was also known to donate equipment, food and time to numerous church and community events, and sponsored countless school and recreational sports teams over the years. He was even known to help underprivileged kids with expenses related to their school sports, and perfect strangers in need. Jay was also a Rotary Club member for several years, and served his country in the Army Reserves as a mess hall cook, and Sergeant, honorably discharged in 1960.
Jay finally retired in 2005, but his passion for the business continued in to retirement as he mentored young restaurant owners, and was still talking about how to be successful in the restaurant business just weeks before his passing. He worked very hard throughout his life adopting the saying that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
In all, Jay was a successful restauranteur, an avid sports fan, loved classic cars and was known for his sense of humor, generosity, humility and great spirit. His was a life well lived and worthy of admiration.
Calling hours will be held on Monday, January 15th, 5-7 pm at Merton H Kays Funeral Home, 59 Monroe Street, Honeoye Falls. Funeral mass to be held on Tuesday, January 16th, 11am at St. Louis Church, 64 South Main Street, Pittsford, NY. A private burial will be held at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Geneseo, NY. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the American Red Cross., 50 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607. To send a condolence or share a memory please visit: www.doughertyfuneralhomes.com