By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Johnstown Chiefs lost an owner, friend and devoted fan on Sunday.
Leonard Reeves, a Latrobe attorney with minority ownership in the ECHL team, died of an apparent heart attack while spending time with friends in Somerset, his law partner and fellow minority owner Ned Nakles Jr. said on Tuesday.
Reeves, of Derry, Westmoreland County, was 73.
“Leonard loved hockey and he really was a student of the game,” Nakles said Tuesday. “He really loved Johnstown. He loved the people there. He loved the Chiefs.”
Reeves was part of the Chiefs ownership group that purchased the team from majority owner Henry Brabham and minority owner John Daley on April 1, 1993. Nakles and his father, Ned Nakles Sr., also were in the ownership group, and Nakles Jr. was managing partner during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.
After two years, the Nakles-Reeves ownership group sold the team to WJAC-TV Inc. But Nakles Jr. and Reeves eventually rejoined the Chiefs as minority owners late during the 2004-05 season, holding 10 percent interest with majority owner Neil Smith and then-minority owner Richard Adams, who later left the group.
In recent years, Reeves enjoyed bringing his grandchildren to Chiefs games. He often treated a granddaughter and grandson to an ice cream cone and a visit to the press box, where the youngsters had a vantage point high above the ice and seats.
“They always watched from the crow’s nest during the second period,” Nakles Jr. said of the auxiliary press box. “They loved the view from there.”
A tall and often quiet man, Reeves made a point of shaking hands with fans and members of the media before games or during intermissions.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Reeves family during this difficult time,” said Kevin McGeehan, Chiefs vice president and director of hockey operations. “Leonard was a great supporter of Johnstown Chiefs hockey for a number of years, not only as an owner but also as a fan. The team expresses its heartfelt sympathy.”
Nakles Jr. said Chiefs fans might not have realized how much Reeves helped his fellow man.
“Leonard was a very devout Christian and he did missionary work all over the world,” Nakles Jr. said of Reeves’ missions to Bolivia, Mexico, Japan, Guyana and China. “They built churches and schools. Leonard was a Christian in both word and deed. He really walked the walk.”
Nakles Jr. often turned to Reeves after his father, Ned Sr., died years ago.
“Leonard was like a second father to me,” Nakles Jr. said. “He was the best law partner you could have. He was one of the best trial lawyers in Westmoreland County history. At one time he won something like 14 consecutive cases, which is unheard of.”
Reeves’ death should not affect the structure of the Chiefs’ ownership. Nakles Jr. said he will address the matter with Reeves’ family at the appropriate time.
“Leonard was committed to keeping hockey in Johnstown,” Nakles Jr. said. “His death would not change that.”
Reeves is survived by his wife, Patricia, five children and nine grandchildren.