No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. These words from John 15:13 articulate beautifully the sacrifice that Kansas City Firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh made on that fateful night of Oct. 12, serving their community and saving lives.
Both men grew up in the Historic Northeast neighborhood and dedicated their lives to the safety of its residents by serving the community KCFD Station #23.
John Mesh attended Holy Cross School and St. Mary’s High School and was a parishioner at St. Mark’s in Independence. Larry Leggio was a parishioner at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Therefore it is with great humility and honor that the Board of Directors of the Bright Futures Fund announces the creation of the John V. Mesh KCFD Memorial Scholarship and the Larry Leggio KCFD Memorial Scholarship.
These annual scholarships will be awarded to two students at Holy Cross School in their honor, and will help ensure that students who otherwise would not be able to receive a high-quality Catholic education are able to do so.
The Bright Futures Fund, an independent 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that works in partnership with 6 Catholic Elementary Schools and 3 Diocesan High Schools in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, provides scholarship support to students and families in need. Their work provides over 750 annual scholarships to assist families with multiple children in Catholic School and to help eradicate poverty through education and to provide students with opportunities to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens in their communities. The Board could think of no better way to honor the incredible heroic actions of John Mesh and Larry Leggio than to provide opportunities to children and families in need in the community that these two exemplary men loved.
“These scholarships are but a small gesture compared to the bravery and dedication that John Mesh and Larry Leggio demonstrated on a daily basis, but it is our hope that they will help serve as a reminder to their incredible legacy in our city and the countless lives that their service impacted, including those at Holy Cross School,” said Jeremy Lillig, managing director of the Bright Futures Fund.
Larry Leggio, a 17-year veteran of the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department was born June 25, 1972 to Angelo and Mary Lynn (Donnici) Leggio. He was passionate in life and he brought that passion to his beloved fire department. Larry loved riding his Harley and was active in supporting charity rides such as one for his longtime friend and fire department brother, Bill Dady. Larry most recently participated in a ride to Colorado Springs to support the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Larry’s other passion was his family, especially his soul-mate Missy, who he married in 2011.
On his days off, Larry enjoyed fishing and hunting with his fellow firefighters and extended family, especially trips to Arkansas for duck hunting and to Lake Taneycomo for fishing. His nieces and nephew loved having Larry and Missy with them on summer trips to Table Rock Lake in Branson. Larry also loved trips to the beach with Missy where they made new friends.
He is survived by his wife, Missy (Gentile) Leggio; mother, Mary Lynn Leggio; brother, Joe Mike Leggio (Michelle); sister, Angela Emmick; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Joe and Marcia Gentile; brother-in-law, Tim Gentile (Trina); and sister-in-law, Tina Gentile. He also leaves many nieces and nephews, his dog Fritzy, as well as many extended family members, countless friends and his fellow firefighters. Larry was preceded in death by his father, Angelo L. Leggio.
From the time he was a little boy, Larry dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps as a firefighter. That dream became a reality in May 1998. He started his career at Station number 23, located in Old Northeast, where he was born and raised. Later in his firefighting career, Larry was promoted to Fire Apparatus Operator and moved to truck number 2, “the Deuce”, in Midtown Kansas City.
He was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend to many and touched all with his infectious smile and approach to life. Larry was serving with his fellow firefighters on Truck 2 when he was called for that last alarm in Old Northeast, Oct. 12.
John Mesh, a 13- year veteran of the Kanas City Fire Department, was born Aug. 8, 1976, to Michael Joseph and Barbara (Taylor) Mesh. He was a graduate of Holy Cross grade school and St. Mary’s High School and a parishioner at St. Mark’s in Independence. He is survived by his wife of 16 years, Felicia (Mora) Mesh; daughters, Adriana Nikole (17), Alyssa Marie (16), Alexandria JoLynn (13), Alicia Lynette (10); mother, Barbara K. Mesh; brothers, Michael T. Mesh (Sherri), Mark A. Mesh (Rosealyn), James J. Mesh (Laura); sisters, Jena Oliver (Todd), Christine Kimzey (Brian), Sherri Caponetto (Ross); father-in-law and mother-in-law, Felix and Mella Mora; brother-in-law, Anthony Mora (Tina); and sister-in-law, Staci Reed (Jake). He also leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews as well as many extended family members, friends, and fellow firefighters. He was preceded in death by his father, Michael Joseph Mesh; and brother, Joseph Anthony “Tony” Mesh.
John’s family was most important to him and he was everything to them. He was extremely proud of his girls and a very active participant in all their sports, functions and events. He was an avid hunter and was passing this tradition to his daughters.
John was passionate about his career as a firefighter/EMT. He was serving with his fellow firefighters on Pumper 10 when that last alarm call came Oct. 12.
The Oct. 18 visitation for Larry Leggio and the Oct. 19 Mass of Christian Burial were at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kansas City.
The Oct. 20 Rosary and Visitation for John Mesh and Oct. 21 Mass of Christian Burial were at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Independence.
Both firefighters were laid to rest in the First Responders Legacy Garden at Mt. Olivet-KC as a memorial contribution by Catholic Cemeteries Associated.
A public memorial service for both firefighters, hosted by IAFF Local 42, was held Oct. 17, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In lieu of flowers, contributions are suggested to a fund to support the fallen firefighters’ families c/o IAFF Local 42, 6320 Manchester Ave., Suite 42A, Kansas City, MO 64133.