Robert H. Leonard, 87, of Farragut, Tennessee died peacefully on November 12, 2012 with his beloved wife of 62 years, Marie and his family at his side. Bob was born on November 19, 1924 to Robert Hobart Leonard (R.H. Leonard) and wife, Nell Pritchard Leonard. He graduated from Young High School in 1942, attended the University of Tennessee where he was a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Delta Phi, Scarabbean Senior Society and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BA in 1946, and an LLB in 1947. The LLB later became Doctor of Jurisprudence. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1946 prior to his graduation from law school and began the active practice of law in May of 1947 with the firm of White and Leonard, composed of O.L. White and his father, R.H. Leonard. His father died in December of 1948 after they had practiced law together for only 16 months. From that time on, he practiced law as Robert H. Leonard and was known to all as Bob Leonard. He was a member of The American Bar Association, The Knoxville Bar Association, and a Fellow of The Knoxville Bar Foundation. Bob was president of The Knoxville Bar Association in 1964-1965. He was General Counsel of First Utility District of Knox County, Tennessee for 55 years. He practiced law for 63 years until his retirement in May, 2010. Bob joined the Optimist Club of Knoxville in May of 1950, and had 62 years of perfect attendance. He was elected President of that Club in 1956-1957. Bob also served as Secretary/Treasurer of District Eleven of Optimist International from 1954-1955, which included all of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and parts of Louisiana and Florida and then Governor in 1959-1960. He was elected to the Board of Directors of Optimist International as Director, then served as Vice President, and was the first President-Elect of Optimist International in 1965-1966. Bob then became President of Optimist International in 1966-1967. He was Chairman of the Optimist International Boys Work Committee from 1969 to 1972 and led the Committee to change its name to Youth Work Committee so that girls, as well as boys, could profit from the opportunities offered by Optimist International and its member clubs. Bob was a Kentucky Colonel, a Louisiana Colonel and a Tennessee Colonel. He was a life-long member of First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Knoxville, having served as Director, Deacon, Elder, Chairman of the Board, Trustee and Elder Emeritus of that church. Bob was the founding teacher of the Disciples Class at First Christian Church beginning in May of 1950 and retiring after 55 years of service in 2005. Bob Leonard was the first Mayor of the Town of Farragut, being first elected on April 1, 1980, serving a total of six terms from April 1, 1980 until April 23, 1993. He was honored by the Tennessee Municipal League as the Tennessee Mayor of the Year in 1991. Bob was also honored by the Town of Farragut naming its second public park "Mayor Bob Leonard Park". He was a life-member of the Farragut Chamber of Commerce, now the Farragut-West Knox Chamber of Commerce and of the Farragut Folklife Museum, both created by the Town of Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen at his request. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Joe H. Leonard, M.D. He is survived by his wife, Marie Sharp Leonard; daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth (Beth) Leonard Bledsoe and Jerry D. Bledsoe; sons, Robert M. Leonard and Patrick J. Leonard; grandchildren, Joshua Seth Bledsoe, Robert Ellis Leonard and Maggie Mariah Bledsoe; great-granddaughters, Molleigh S. Desha, Dani C. Bledsoe and Cali G. Sugiyama; niece, Alice Brown Childress; two great-nephews and many cousins.
From: Knoxville News Sentinel Co
The Farragut town flag is flying at half staff in memory of Robert H. Leonard, six-term mayor and one of the town's founding fathers. Mr. Leonard, the town's first mayor — serving 1980-93 — died Monday at age 87. "Bob had a vision, and what you see today is the result of that vision," said former Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford. The job of guiding the town through its early years turned out to be much more difficult than the group of fledgling leaders ever anticipated, recalled current Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill.
"I'm not sure those involved realized how hard it would be. We were being sued right and left," McGill said.
The Farragut town flag is flying at half staff in memory of Robert H. Leonard, six-term mayor and one of the town's founding fathers.Mr. Leonard, the town's first mayor — serving 1980-93 — died Monday at age 87. "Bob had a vision, and what you see today is the result of that vision," said former Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford.
The job of guiding the town through its early years turned out to be much more difficult than the group of fledgling leaders ever anticipated, recalled current Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill. "I'm not sure those involved realized how hard it would be. We were being sued right and left," McGill said.
Mr. Leonard spent many late nights working into the early-morning hours with town attorney David Rogers to defend against the various suits filed by the city of Knoxville and Knox County. Mary Lou Koepp, retired town recorder and the town's first employee, said she remembers that the lawsuits only added to the significant burden the town leaders already faced. "All the planning and zoning ordinances had to be written and put on the books," she said.
Mr. Leonard was responsible for setting a tone of fiscal responsibility that has become one of the hallmarks of the town's identity, she said. Without a property tax, and with few businesses in the town to provide sales-tax revenue, the town was on a tight budget, she said. One of Mr. Leonard's early visions involved putting a park in every quadrant of the town. His legacy as a proponent of town parks was preserved for future generations through the creation of Mayor Bob Leonard Park in 1991, Ford said.
A passion for history led to Mr. Leonard's involvement in the creation of the Farragut Folklife Museum. He was active with the museum right up until his death, friends said."If it wasn't for Bob, we wouldn't have the museum," Koepp said.
Mr. Leonard was honored by the Tennessee Municipal League as Tennessee's Mayor of the Year in 1991. He'd said at the time, "I never thought that such an honor could come to a volunteer, unpaid mayor of a small, new town like Farragut."
A graduate of the University of Tennessee Law School in 1946, Mr. Leonard was elected president of the Knoxville Bar Association in 1964, and he served as general counsel for First Utility District for 55 years. He was senior partner in the law firm of Leonard & Kaserman when he retired in 2010. An expert on real property law, Mr. Leonard was active in the Optimist Club of Knoxville for many years, holding several local and national offices in the organization, said his law partner Barton Kaserman.
Mr. Leonard is survived by his wife, Marie; daughter, Elizabeth; and sons, Robert and Patrick.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.