Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pat LeJeune served Brandon's hungry and was paid in satisfaction

BRANDON — The career Pat LeJeune chose didn't pay a lot of money, but the fringe benefits made it all worthwhile.

Since the late 1990s, Mrs. LeJeune provided food for thousands of needy families in Hillsborough County. The privilege of being able to do that, she would tell people, made all her hard work worthwhile.

"All she wanted to do was help people," said her husband, Tom LeJeune. "She never wanted a raise. She'd say, 'The meager salary I get is fine. They can keep the rest.' She was a class act."

Mrs. LeJeune, the executive director of the Nativity Catholic Church Food Bank and Food Pantry, died Jan. 11 after a brief battle with cancer. She was 68 years old.

She was active until the last few weeks of her job, and she never resigned or retired from her position.

"Even though she had cancer, we all thought she'd be coming back," said Tessie Falkenbach, a volunteer administrator with the Brandon church's food bank and pantry.

The food bank collected and distributed food to churches around the county, which in turn fed some 1,500 families each week. The food pantry also gave food baskets directly to families in the area near Nativity Catholic Church.

As the population in Brandon and Hillsborough County grew and harsh economic times pushed more families below the poverty line, Mrs. LeJeune always managed to keep the shelves at the food bank full of donated food.

"She was a great believer that God would provide, and he always did," Falkenbach said. "There were so many times when we'd say we needed something, and then the next thing you knew we had it."

It didn't always come easily, though. Mrs. LeJeune worked hard to persuade local businesses and individuals to keep donations coming.

Her passion for helping people was contagious, and potential donors found it hard to say no.

"She was very inspiring," Falkenbach said. "She just made people want to do things for others."

Mrs. LeJeune was born in Wausau, Wis. She met her husband when they were students at Marquette University. His job brought them to Brandon in 1964.

They had two sons and a daughter. One son, T.J., died two years ago.

After her children were grown, Mrs. LeJeune began her volunteer work.

She was devoutly religious — her husband said he always thought she'd become a nun if he died before she did — and much of her volunteer work was through her church. When Sister Constance Arsenault, who founded the food bank and pantry in 1983, retired in the late 1990s, she asked Mrs. LeJeune to take over as director.

"She was just an amazing person," Falkenbach said. "I don't know what we're going to do without her."

Besides her husband, Mrs. LeJeune is survived by her son Doug, daughter Jacqueline and her grandchildren.

Marty Clear can be reached at [email protected]

Pat LeJeune served Brandon's hungry and was paid in satisfaction 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. City Council approves $5 million for Clearwater Marine Aquarium expansion

    Briefs

    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday approved contributing $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for its massive expansion project.

    Clearwater has agreed to contributed $5 million to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
's $66 million expansion project.. [ Clearwater Marine Aquarium] 


  2. This unidentified man was punched outside of Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville.
  3. Pentagon faces demands for details on deadly attack in Niger

    Military

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration had no answers Thursday to key questions two weeks after an ambush in the African nation of Niger killed four U.S. soldiers, prompting demands in Congress for details, complaints of Pentagon stonewalling and a comparison to the 2012 Benghazi attack. The White House defended …

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed. There were about a dozen U.S. troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission. [Pfc. Lane Hiser | U.S. Army via AP]
  4. Trigaux: Florida, Tampa Bay lagging in growth of their startups

    Economic Development

    The annual assessment of how entrepreneurs are doing across the country is out from the Kauffman Foundation — among the best watchers of the nation's startup scene. How do Florida and Tampa Bay fare?

    Lured by financial incentives, startup GeniusCentral relocated from Manatee County in 2015 to St. Petersburg, promising to creatye 40 new jobs. It took downtown space in an appropriately creative workpace for entrepreneurs. It did not last there, later moving back to less expensive space in Manatee. A new Kauffman Index report on entrepreneurship found that Florida is a good place to launch startups but a tougher place to grow them.
[SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Rick Baker revises controversial radio ad, Rick Kriseman's campaign says former mayor is "dishonest" and "desperate"

    Blogs

    Rick Baker’s campaign has revised a controversial radio ad that had incorrectly stated Mayor Rick Kriseman hadn’t “bothered to show up” at a NAACP event earlier this month.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says former mayor Rick Baker is dishonest and desperate for airing a radio ad that has since been revised