John "Jack" Leonard was the youngest of three children born to Lt. General John Leonard and Eileen O'Brien Leonard. He was born at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 1925. Much to his mother's delight, as this was Robert E. Lee's birthday and she was from Chattanooga, Tennessee. (His father was a damn Yankee from Toledo, Ohio.)
As an army brat, moving was par. Buzz and his two older sisters attended elementary school in Pennsylvania, China and Maryland. High school was in Maryland and Texas. He started school early and during the Depression, the eighth grade was eliminated; consequently, he graduated high school when he was sixteen. He then attended Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and from there he was admitted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology without exams. Entering MIT in 1942, he graduated in 1947 with a degree in Civil Engineering. His education was self-interrupted by volunteering for the draft. Congenital kyphoscoliosis lead to his rejection, but in true Buzz fashion, he found a way to serve, volunteering as an ambulance driver and stretcher-bearer for the American Field Services. In March 1945, he was cited for bravery in an Order of the Day. At MIT, he was the varsity crew coxswain for two years, gleefully beating Harvard three times as well as the storied University of Washington while on their way to securing the national championship.
Jack started his career working for Morrison-Knudsen in the Seattle district working at Hanford, Grand Coulee and Alaska. He and his college room and crew mate, Bill Reynolds, decided to go out on their own in the construction industry. They took on projects ranging from Grand Coulee, the Alcoa plant at Wenatchee, irrigation work in the Columbia Basin and bridges in Washington. They "broke their picks" at Lucky Peak and made a hasty retreat from town. (It took a lot of courage for Jack to return to Boise seven years later.)
In the interim, fortune smiled on him as he met Betty Agnew in Spokane and they were married in 1955. Three daughters were born to them: Eileen, Kathleen and Mary Elizabeth in Spokane, Brazil and Boise, respectively.
After three years in Brazil as project engineer on what was the largest earth dam in South America, Betty and Jack returned to Boise in 1961. Due to Betty's health, they wanted and needed a home base and he resided in Boise ever since.
Jack had a rewarding career at MK, retiring in 1987 as Senior Vice President of Engineering. He was the recipient of numerous industry honors, among the most notable being the Moles’ Award for tunneling, the Golden Beavers' Award for Engineering, and election into the National Academy of Science. He was a fellow in the American Society of Engineering, member of Chi Epsilon and was a registered professional engineer in three states.
He found time to participate in the local community, serving several times as director of Crane Creek Country Club, chairman of St. John's first Parish Council, chairman of the Bishop Kelly School Board, and founding member of the Bishop Kelly Foundation.
Betty and Jack spent much of their early retired life traveling around the world and he was always generous to his children and grandchildren in including them on these adventures. Betty suffered from Type 1 Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, so travels were curtailed as Jack was a devoted spouse and caregiver to her for the last seven very fragile years of her life.
Fittingly, love entered his life again when he met Helen Savage on a plane. Striking up a conversation, they quickly found commonality in their widowhood, interest in travel, religion and love of family. Married in June of 2009, Jack knew that Helen and her family were special gifts to him in his final years.
Blessed with a long life, he was preceded in death by much dear family: his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, first wife Betty, and sister, Natalie Crosthwait. He is survived by his wife, Helen Leonard; daughters: Eileen (Phil) Diekemper and Kathleen (Pat) Logan; grandchildren: Jackelyn (Brad) Cadard, Daniel (Emily) Diekemper, Bridget Logan and Thomas Logan. His final blessing was his first great grandchild Lillian Cadard.
The family wishes to thank Brightstar Home Health, First Choice Hospice and his devoted home aides: Ginger, Raejean, and Judy.
A Rosary will be held Thursday, January 10th at 6:00 P.M. in the chapel at St. John the Evangelist, 807 N. 8th St. in Boise. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, January 11th in the main sanctuary. Please use the Hayes St. entrance. Burial will follow at Morris Hill Cemetery. Remembrances may be left for the family on Jack's webpage at www. AccentFuneral.com. Services are under the direction of Accent Funeral Home and Cremation in Meridian, (208) 888-5833. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made in Jack’s name to the Bishop Kelly Foundation, 7009 Franklin Road, Boise, ID 83709. (208) 888-5833.