HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Joseph Leahy has died at the age of 58, officials with UAH confirm. The Madison County Coroner's Office confirmed that Leahy died of a heart attack.
Leahy, a professor in the Biology department at UAH, was one of the shooting victims in which three people died and three others were injured. The shooting happened in February of 2010.
The university released a statement that read:
It is with much sadness that we report the passing of Joseph Leahy, an admired member of UAH’s Biological Sciences Department. His presence will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ginny and his family.
Convicted killer Amy Bishop Anderson shot Leahy in the head when she opened fire during a Biology Department faculty meeting. Through treatment and rehabilitation, Leahy was able to return to work at UAH.
Bishop Anderson was convicted of Capital Murder in 2012. She's serving a life sentence.
Friends and colleagues were saddened by the loss of Professor Leahy, a man they describe as being a positive, resilient personality, he was "always encouraging. Very optimistic. Always pushing students, pushing me sometimes too."
Dr. Debora Moriarity, the Biology Department head at UAH was in the board meeting that fateful day seven years ago and said that every day with Leahy since then, has been nothing short of a gift.
Joe Ng says the two professors were the early birds of the department, always showing up to work at 7 a.m. "He always had welcoming music, and a variety of different music from classical to heavy metal to classic rock." It was Leahy's way of getting everyone excited for a new day.
But on Monday morning, the hallways leading to their offices fell silent. "There were a lot of tears shed some disbelief and shock. He was very, very popular among his students because they knew he cared about them."
Moriarty says the loss of Leahy over the weekend is something no one was expecting. "He came in my office Friday and was very excited because his youngest son Steven had gotten an interview invitation for medical school at the University of South Alabama."
His personality shined for everyone. "He seemed invincible. He'd come back so far and was just doing great at work."
While he may not be there in person, his friends say he will never be forgotten. "We do want to keep the memory of his dedication, his kindness and his love of the students in the forefront of people's minds."
Family, friends, colleagues, and students will gather at a wake and memorial service to honor Joseph Leahy on Tuesday at 6 p.m., at St. John's Catholic Church in Madison. The Funeral mass will take place on Wednesday at 11 a.m., at St. John's.