It was a love of fast cars that led to what has become a lifelong friendship for Bob LeBlanc and Rick Gagne. Over 40 years later that friendship is still going strong, and the two men are not only rabid Boston College football fans, but big supporters of the Robert J. LeBlanc Scholarship Fund in memory of Bob’s father.
Each year since 1998 it is given to a North Shore scholar-athlete, who is headed to BC to play football and remains with that person throughout his career.
“The last time I saw my father was at the BC-Michigan game in 1995,” said Bob LeBlanc, a 1967 Beverly High and ‘71 BC graduate, who now makes his home in North Carolina. “We were with my best buddy Rick, and my Dad was very quiet that day. Shortly after I had to go overseas on business, and he passed away while I was en route home.
“We established the scholarship fund as a gift from my wife and I to help deserving student-athletes. Brian St. Pierre (St. John’s Prep and BC QB, who went on to have a 10 year pro career) was the first. If at all possible, we try to provide scholarship assistance to kids from the North Shore which makes it unique. We have been fortunate to have great young men every year, and I was thrilled when Brian had the opportunity to start a game for the Carolina Panthers a few years ago.”
After St. Pierre’s four years ended, Jim Unis of Gloucester was the next selected. When his football days ended due to injury, he continued to receive the scholarship. Unis was followed by another Gloucester boy, Jon Loyte from St. John’s Prep, who transferred to BC after starting his career at Vanderbilt. From 2008-11 James McClusky of Billerica was chosen, followed by Lynn’s Harris Williams.