Harry Edwin Leonard, Jr.
Born: July 11, 1940
Died: October 18, 2003
Harry Leonard was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, son of Harry Edwin Leonard and Dorothy McCormack Leonard. He prepared for Yale at the Taft School in Watertown where he made his mark with the newspaper and the Press Club and as an avid member of the Glee Club and the Christmas Choir.
At Yale Harry was a resident of Jonathan Edwards and active on the JE Debate Club. He was a member of the Society for African Affairs and Dwight Hall (teaching deputations). An accomplished tenor, he sung with the Freshman Glee Club, the Apollo Glee Club, the Yale Glee Club and the Duke's Men. Harry was an English major and was on the Dean's List.
After Yale, Harry pursued a career as a newspaper reporter. He worked for the Waterbury Republican-American initially and later with the New Haven Register. His marriage to the former Carol Milde of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan terminated in divorce. They had a daughter Michelle. Wayne France, Harry's Yale and Taft classmate, reports that Carol returned to live in Michigan. Michelle also resided in Michigan, but she has since moved and her whereabouts and that of Carol are now unknown according to Wayne.
Unfortunately, the mental illness which first afflicted Harry while he was at Yale gradually worsened. He lived alone for many years but was a resident of the Smith House, a municipally owned skilled nursing facility in Stamford, Connecticut, at the time of his death.
In addition to France, classmates Ken Harding and Peter Bell supplied information for this obituary. Harding recalls that Harry had "a wry sense of humor and was quick to see the absurdity of things". Ken remembers being shaken by Harry's mental illness but now reflects that the tragedy of that illness has been instructive in his own life:
"The experience of knowing Harry actually began a long personal journey of reaching out to others who don't share the same background and interests, of touching the lives of others who are in pain. I now recognize that Harry was an especially kind person, gentle, generous if asked and well-meaning. But he was also awkward, lonely and moody. I silently admired him as a good writer and regarded him as a kind of quiet poet, mournful and soulful. He was above all, a decent and good person. I wish I had gotten to know him better and had told him this to his face. He was a better friend than I, and perhaps others at the time, deserved."
Peter Bell also recalled Harry's "intelligence, wit and love of singing and writing."
In addition to Michelle, Harry was survived by his stepmother Henrietta Leonard of Waterbury and his first cousin, W. Alvin Elsdon of Oakville, Connecticut. Mr. Elsdon was Harry's only personal contact for many years and arranged his funeral and his burial in Old Pine Grove Cemetery in Waterbury.