Home Philosophy History Children's Clothing Gift Certificates Contact us
Premie-9 MonthsInfants 12-24 MonthsToddler 2T-4TGirls 4-6xBoys 4-7Girls 7-16Boys 8-16Girls 12-1/2-20-1/2Boys and Girls Formalwear



Lakin remembered for his intellect and compassion

The Gardner News – By Mary Moreau
February 28, 2001

The passing of Leo Lakin after a century and two years of life brings a feeling of loss in this community, a sense of this being the end of an era.

For more than six decades until recent years, this gentle man of the old school and dean of Gardner merchants was a familiar sight walking through the business district, greeting people with a smile. He lived a full life, even when beset by physical concerns. Several times, he defied the odds given by his doctors, bouncing back enough to be in his beloved store. His objective was always to get back to work as soon as he could. He could not abide idleness, never could just sit at home.

Mr. Lakin genuinely loved people and had great faith in them. He loved his adopted Gardner, which had opened its arms to him and his wife, Ida, when they arrived here in 1935 to open Lakin's Children's Shop. The couple worked side by side for 51 years until Ida's death in 1986. The store, which became his life, is now owned by their daughter, Phyllis.

His philosophy on life, which was to have a purpose, keep moving, keep interested in life and have a sense of humor, was something he put into practice every day. He hoped for the best in a changing world firmly believing that common sense would eventually prevail. Despite ominous news, he believed things would get better in the country and that the low points were only temporary.

He had seen unimagined changes in technology, and believed that people should pursue knowledge.

Hadassah Freilich Lieberman, Gardner native who is the wife of Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, recent Democratic vice presidential candidate, shared her thoughts about the man who was a close family friend.

"He was a great man of integrity, such an incredible intellect, a totally self-made man, very well-read and self-taught. My Dad and Mr. Lakin would get together on Saturday nights and talk about the great philosophers for hours. It was great," she said "He was a real help for my family when we first moved here. We're going to miss him. I loved him very much. He taught us all to be patient and non-judgemental."

Mayor Daniel J. Kelley said Mr. Lakin will be missed in the community, recalling the man who was fluent in French often walking by his Baker Street home years ago.

"He used to come down and seek out the French-speaking people. I couldn't understand why. I knew these people, knew they could only speak French, he interacted with them to keep up his French. I used to enjoy going into the store (as a firefighter) when they were both alive. They were very interesting people."

"If you knew him, you liked him. He was Gardner, he loved Gardner. His whole world was his store. His was quite a generational business which we'll never see again. Businesses don't cater to the generations today. Not that that is wrong, but it is the way of business today," Kelley said.

Michael Ellis, president and CEO of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce had high praise for Mr. Lakin.

"He was a testament of good business ethics, strong work ethics and set a standard for all businessmen. He had a great soul and heart and will be greatly missed in the business community and by his daughter, whom he truly loved and enjoyed," he said. "He was unbelievably perceptive. He had a great take on life and had an amazing insight on human nature. He's the kind of guy we all aspire to be."

Mr. Lakin enjoyed singing, leading services at the former Synagogue Ohave Sholom, and singing a capella in activities at his rehabilitation center.

People from all walks of like who knew him admired his wit and his memory for detail, even into his latest years. The personal and business ethic and integrity he brought here with him are what he kept all his life. He treated people with consideration, as he said he wanted to be treated.

He humbly accepted many honors and recognitions, civic and in business, locally and statewide. He was pleased appreciative, but never sought the limelight himself.

He was fond of saying, "I'm glad I settled in Gardner." To which Gardner might reply, "We're glad you did, too."

LAKIN'S / 68 Parker Street / Gardner, MA 01440 / (978) 632-1699

Copyrightİ2002 Lakin's Children's Apparel All rights reserved.