DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – They called him “Big Cat”. Leo Chaney proudly represented south Dallas on the city council for eight years.

Even after he left Dallas City Hall, Chaney never stopped fighting to improve the community that he loved.

Chaney died in a fire at his south Dallas home on Monday. Friday night those who loved and respected him gathered in his memory.

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The Hall of State in Fair Park was filled with powerful and influential leaders in the Dallas community. They came together to pay their respects to former councilman Chaney, who lay in state in the hall.

Some of those who loved and respected Chaney referred to him as ‘colleague’ or ‘neighbor’, but many called him “friend”. “When we were young boys Chaney’s Cleaners was on Spring Avenue and we used to run up and down Spring Avenue and in an out of the cleaners,” State Senator Royce West recalled.

West was a boyhood friend of Chaney’s. He was witness to Chaney’s tireless endeavor to better the lives of his south Dallas constituents. “What you see here today and there is a resolution on the behalf of the State of Texas, not the House or the Senate but Texas to say ‘Leo job well done.’”

Steve Salazar served on the city council with Chaney. “When someone is going to tell you the truth they’re going to stand beside you and back you up. That was Leo,” he said.

Chaney earned the nickname “Big Cat” because he was big in stature and big in heart. DISD Trustee Bernadette Nutall said. “He was respected for his genuine and constant concern for his community [and] for speaking truth to power. Leo always spoke truth to power.”

Funeral services for Leo Chaney will be held August 17, 2013, at True Lee Baptist Church at 3907 Bertrand Avenue in Dallas. The funeral begins at 11 a.m.

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