James Michael Leonard died after a long illness on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at his home in the Oktoc community. He was born on October 10, 1945 to George Bernard Leonard and Inez Marie Leonard in Lockport, New York. As a youth, Jim satisfied his adventurous side by talking pilots at a local airport into allowing him to accompany them on short flights. Later, he took advantage of the early enlistment program offered by the U.S. Marines, and boarded a train to Parris Island for boot camp. As a field radio operator, he made 13 parachute jumps in preparation for combat duty in Santo Domingo and Vietnam from 1964 to 1966.
After returning to civilian life, Jim worked in various capacities for Lockport Felt in New York. When the company expanded its operations in the South, he transferred to Starkville in 1981 and continued to work at what was later to be known as Weavexx until his retirement in 2008.
Jim always looked forward to spending time with his three sons. He also enjoyed driving his vintage tractor and refinishing old furniture. Over the years, he adopted and lovingly cared for a number of homeless animals. He could often be seen relaxing in his front porch swing as the rest of the world hurried by. He claimed to have satisfied his need for thrills as a young man, and enjoyed the serenity and beauty surrounding him in his country home.
Jim is survived by his brother, Robert W. Leonard of Lockport, New York, and three sons: Daniel J. Leonard (Amy) of Brooktondale, New York; David J. Leonard of Gresham, Oregon; and Dustin J. Leonard of Mooresville, North Carolina. He also has two granddaughters, Emily Lowe and Brianna Leonard, and a special friend, Erin Scanlon.
Services for Jim Leonard will be held at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church on Saturday, March 29. Visitation will start at 10:00 a.m. with a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. Burial will follow in Oddfellows Cemetery at 12:00 noon. A special thank you to the caregivers and staff of Gentiva Hospice for all their assistance in seeing Jim and his family through this trying time.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Homeward Bound Project of Mississippi, P. O. Box 2841, Mississippi State, MS 39762.