Denis O’Leary, lawyer and congressman, son of Patrick and Mary (O’Connor) O’Leary, was born in Manhasset, Queens County, N.Y. on January 23, 1863. His early education was obtained in the Manhasset public schools, following this up with private tuition and courses at the University of the City of New York (now New York University). Mr. O’Leary was a member of the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Church of Bayside. He represented New York State in the Sixty Third U.S. Congress as a Democrat.
The Queen Anne style home at 25 Pine Street (43rd Avenue), ca. 1905, was the residence of Mr. Denis O’Leary and family until his death in 1943. His residence was, and still is, a most elaborate example of Victorian era architecture with its profuse ornamentation of neo-classical detail. Mr. O’Leary’s carriage barn and stables at the North end of this 200 foot property are still visible from the roadway. They were in consonance with his many involvements in the Douglaston Hill Community in the beginning of the 20th century.
He was an honorary member of the Douglaston Hose Co. No. 1, and officiated at many of its social functions at Zion Parish Hall, sometimes in the company of Mayor Walker. The Flushing Daily Times social column often mentioned his charitable activities and participations.
He was a member of the bar from 1890, and occupied such public offices as Assistant Corporation Council NYC, Public Works Commissioner, and Queens County District Attorney.
His professional career also included private practice. A Flushing Daily Times of February 21, 1907, headline read: “ELECTRIC CHAIR OR ACQUITTAL – HEUBSCHER’S LIFE HANGS IN THE BALANCE”. The trial was held in Supreme Court, in the old Town Hall of Flushing and at the bar for the defense was Mr. Denis O’Leary.
Joseph Heubscher, a Swiss immigrant from Luzerne, was accused of shooting and then cutting the throat of Gottlieb Scherer, both being employees of a butcher shop in Greenpoint. The crime scene was Forest Park; the prime evidence: a “Rambler” brand cigar butt, and the testimony of the defendant’s wife that he owned a Derringer. During jury selection, one prospect, when asked what capital punishment was, said “I don’t know”. The case ended with a conviction for manslaughter and life imprisonment.
Mr. O’Leary married Miss Nellie (Ellen) G. Quinn, April 17, 1895. Three children were born to them: Eleanor O’Leary, Emily O’Leary, and Mary O’Leary. Mary died in childhood. Denis was popular with all classes irrespective of religious creed or political faith and always stood for everything that promoted public good. Mr. O’Leary practiced law until 1929 when he retired. He died in Douglaston, Queens, N.Y., on September 27, 1943 and is interred in Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery in Flushing, N.Y. Denis’ wife, Nellie died from cancer on May 26, 1921. Emily and Eleanor were 18 and 19 at the time. They never married. They cared for their father until his death.