Neighbors mourn death of 7-year-old

Dec. 28, 2013 @ 04:31 PM

Members of the community remember 7-year-old Leo Bortiri, who died while traveling with his parents in Argentina, as a tireless athlete and natural leader, who lived “a very full but all too short life.”

Leonardo Itzak Bortiri died Dec. 19 after injuries from a fall. Before the fall, he had hiked Mt. Tronador in the Andes and walked across the Alerce Glacier, according to his family's obituary. His parents, Rachel Raney and Esteban Bortiri, were en route from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and were not available for comment.

Leo was "in perpetual motion," the obituary stated. He would ride his bike with his family around the Trinity Park neighborhood where they lived. He was an avid soccer player, and participated in the sport at the Hillandale Sports Association and the Triangle Futbol Club.

Leo attended George Watts Montessori Magnet School, and was a rising third-grader. The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the school's PTA in his honor (georgewattspta.org). "Our community is very saddened by Leo's passing," Liz Healey, PTA president, wrote in an e-mail. "He was an avid soccer player and bike rider. Rachel and Esteban were also very involved in George Watts and we are humbled by their generosity.  With the parents' guidance we will use the monies to honor Leo," she stated.

Leo had attended the past three summer camps at the Levin Jewish Community Center, said Madeline Seltman, youth and family camp director. Seltman remembered Leo as "a really amazing kid." One of his favorite activities was swimming in the center's pool. He also had natural leadership ability, she said. "Some of our camps are mixed ages. ... If other kids weren't sure about [an activity], if he thought it was cool, everybody else thought it was cool. He was definitely a leader," Seltman said.

The center observed its eighth annual mitzvah day Wednesday. Those who gathered had a moment of silence for Leo, and exchanged memories, Seltman said.

A post on the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association list serve asked neighbors to reach out to the family. “He has many good friends in the neighborhood that are going to miss him terribly. He had a very full but all too short life,” wrote Jody White, president of the neighborhood association.

In addition to his parents, Leo is survived by his grandparents, Carolyn Raney and Curt Raney, and Ana Maria Bortiri.

A memorial service will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Levin Jewish Community Center, 1937 W. Cornwallis Road.