Leonard was born in Thurber, Texas on Aug. 15, 1915. At the age of three, his family moved to Johnston City, where he grew up.
At the age of nine, he got his first job at the Palace Movie Theatre in Johnston City. He graduated from Johnson City Township High School in 1933, continued to work for the movie theatre, and at the age of 21, moved up to theater management. He also had a passion for the sport of boxing, and boxed during and after his high school years as well as in the Army.
Enlisting in the Army in 1939, Leonard was assigned to a Tank Battalion in Division commanded by Gen. George Patton. During the military buildup of Army Air Forces, he applied and was selected to receive a transfer to the US Army Air Corps. After flight school and receiving his wings and commission, he served as bombardier in a B24 Liberator aircraft during World War II based in England, being part of the first daylight raid over Berlin, Germany.
In total, Leonard completed 30 combat bombing missions, five more than required. During three of those missions he flew under commanding officer Jimmy Stewart. He described Jimmy Stewart, the famous actor, as “common and ordinary” and a “good man.” As a result of his combat missions, he was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross, with five Oak Leaf Clusters.
After the war, he met Rita Duncan from Salem, and they were married in 1946. Leonard managed movie theaters in Salem, Johnson City, Marion and Metropolis. He began working for Electric Energy Inc. in Joppa in 1956 and retired as a payroll supervisor in 1982. Leonard also managed the EEI Credit Union and retired from the EEI Credit Union at the age of 85.
After the death of his wife, Leonard moved to Virginia to be near his son, David, and wife; two grandchildren; and one very special great-granddaughter, Kaylee. In the past, he enjoyed woodworking and was a skilled cabinetmaker. Leonard was a member of First United Methodist Church of Metropolis.
Survivors include one son, David, and wife Sharon of Ashburn, Va.; one granddaughter, LeeAnn McAraw, husband Sean and great-granddaughter, Kaylee of Gainesville, Va; one grandson, Michael T. Phillips of Burke, Va.; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Rita Mae Duncan Phillips; his parents, Thomas and Anne Eyley Phillips; two brothers, George and Earl Phillips; and one sister, Grace Evelyn Stout.
Funeral service was held Saturday at First United Methodist Church with Rev. Gary Motta officiating. Special music was provided by Rev. Earl Black and Stecia Gregory.
Burial followed at Metropolis Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers were Michael Phillips, Sean McAraw, Buford Stout, Doug Morris, Mitch Barkett and Leonard Maggio. Honorary pallbearers were Richard Phillips, Dale Morris, Dwayne Heinzman and Lindell Wehrmeier.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 100 E. Fifth St., Metropolis, IL 62960.
Aikins-Farmer Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.