Father Eugene Leonard dies at 90

TULSA, Okla.—Father Eugene Leonard, a re­tired priest of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., died in his sleep on June 20. He was 90.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Church of Saint Mary on June 25 at 10 a.m. Also, a Memorial Mass will be held at Jesus Our Risen Savior Church, 2575 Reidville Road in Spartanburg, S.C., on June 26 at noon.

Father Eugene Leonard
Father Eugene Leonard

Father Leonard was born Feb. 19, 1926, in Honolulu, Ha­waii, a son of the late Eugene and Renee Andre Leonard. He was a product of Catho­lic grade school and an altar server. He attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he earned an associate of arts degree and a bachelor’s degree; and attended seminary at Holy Cross College, also in Washington, and earned his master’s degree.

Father Leonard joined the Navy on February 1, 1944, where he served as a medic. He was one of the first Americans to survey the dam­age at Hiroshima and assess the casualties. Following his service in the military, he worked in the corporate world, including as an engi­neer at General Electric. He realized that wasn’t his calling, however, saying that he wanted a career where he could help people.

On June 4, 1966, Father Leonard was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Richmond, Va., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He served for many years in Virginia, including as asso­ciate pastor at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Hampton, St. Bridget in Richmond, St. Charles Borromeo in Arling­ton, St. Michael in Annandale, St. Bernadette in Springfield, St. Mary in Alexandria, Blessed Sacrament in Arlington, and Church of the Nativ­ity in Burke. He also served as pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Kilmarnock, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge.

Father Leonard then came to the Diocese of Charleston in 1988 and was named pastor of Jesus Our Risen Savior in 1989, where he served until his retirement in 2001. During an interview at his retirement party, Father Leonard said his greatest accomplishment at the church was the construction of a religious education building and hiring a youth minister. He was also happy to see the parish grow during his time there, from about 200 families to over 550.

After his retirement, Father Leonard agreed to remain at the church until a replacement could be found.

In addition to his pastoral assignments, he served on vari­ous diocesan boards and committees. He was a police and hospital chaplain, and a lifelong activist of prison ministry.

The priest was a sports enthusiast who enjoyed both participating and cheering on his favorite teams, espe­cially Notre Dame. He was also an avid out­doorsman, history and trivia buff, and dog lover.

Father Leonard was preceded in death by his sister, Helen Leonard; and brother-in-law, Edward J. Anderson. He is survived by his sis­ter, Mary Helen An­derson, plus six nieces and nephews, and 12 great-nieces and nephews.

Father Leonard requested that memorial gifts be made to Doctors without Borders, or a local prison ministry.

Messages of condolence may be sent to his niece, Mary Ann Read, 7401 Riverside Pkwy., Unit 124, Tulsa, OK 74136-5051.