"She died on the same day Tom Brady's grandmother died," said Leslie's granddaughter Leslie Benvenuti of Haverhill. "We always tell people that the two grandmothers are up there watching and cheering Tom on."
Leslie Benvenuti and her husband, Dominic, are part of a multigenerational family of Patriots fans. Most come from Leslie's side of the family.
"It's kind of hereditary for me. My grandparents, parents and siblings are all New England sports fans," she said.
Six years ago, she and her husband bought a used ambulance, which they converted for use as a tailgating vehicle when attending Patriots home games in Foxborough. The vehicle, simply referred to as The Ambulance, is plastered with Patriots logos and "Go Pats" signs.
Dominic Benvenuti didn't always root for the Patriots. He grew up in Connecticut and for a long time he was a New York Giants fan.
"I had to convert him," Leslie Benvenuti said, "although he still holds a little torch for them."
He didn't have a choice, she said. It was either convert or else. But it wasn't a sudden change.
"It's when Bill Parcells came to New England that my husband became a Patriots fan," she said. "Now he loves Belichick. We all think he's brilliant."
Of their children - Alicia Rose, 13, Matthew, 21, and Andrew, 23 - only Matthew is a rabid Patriots fan.
All of their children have become used to living among Patriots memorabilia such as a panoramic photo of the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans on one living room wall, autographed footballs, Patriots mugs, seat cushions from the 2004 Super Bowl, hats and bobbleheads of Tom Brady, and a front door decorated with caution tape that bears the words "Patriots Fans Only."
Leslie Benvenuti was on a waiting list for Patriots season tickets for several years. In 2000, her dream came true.
"We've had four season tickets since that time," she said. "We're in the nosebleed section, but we're happy."
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