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In Memory of . . . David V. Leonard (1942-2013)

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 10, 2013

The Rev. David V. Leonard died on January 28, 2013. He was 71 years old.

Rev. Leonard was born in Rutland, VT on January 8, 1942 to Katheryn (Campbell) and Richard Leonard. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1963. He then went on to attain a Bachelor of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1967.

Ordained by the United Methodist Church in Trivoli, IL in June, 1967, Rev. Leonard eventually decided to make a change and, in 1975, he left the Methodist Church to begin a life as a Unitarian Universalist. He immediately took steps to become a Unitarian Universalist minister, and was called to his first position at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Smithton, PA from 1977-1984. He then went on to serve to First Unitarian Church of Lynchburg, VA from 1984-1992; the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, OH from 1992-2002; the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Binghamton, NY from 2002-2003; and the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, NJ from 2003-2008.

His wife, Linda, shared:

David Leonard was an intensely private person who was happiest either chasing trains (in order to photograph a locomotive), or walking a trail in the woods. Classical music, the deep night sky, and a win by the Detroit Tigers or Chicago Cubs also moved him deeply. So did the affection of his cats, from the illegal seminary fur brother, to the orange and black companions on the hospice hospital bed.

Hating ceremony, David much preferred jeans to a suit. Clergy and lay people alike sometimes wondered if he really was a minister since he only wore his "uniform" when absolutely necessary.

As a person most comfortable by himself, David was uneasy with many of the tasks and expectations of the parish minister. Over the years, he learned to wear two hats: the minister's hat and the rail fan/photographer hat. He was an excellent photographer and good at keeping his own counsel. He was also superlative at counseling others and preaching on Sunday morning.

He read theology, philosophy, science (especially paleontology), and thrillers, with Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton being two of his favorite authors. He also liked children's books.

He was a good father. He loved his children, his animals, the natural world, and, of course, his trains. He had a wry, Mark Twain-Ambrose Bierce sense of humor that could find the ridiculous in almost any situation. He was politically green but not without snide remarks.

In Emerson's sense, David Leonard leaves the world a better place.

Rev. Leonard is survived by his wife, Linda Wiltz; daughter, Elisabeth Anne Leonard and her husband, Adam Hill; son Marc Leonard; brother, Richard Leonard; sister, Lucy Hill; and grandchildren, Benjamin Sage and Jaden Liana.

Notes of condolence may be sent to Linda Wiltz at 16 Genesee Ave., Binghamton, NY 13903.

He would be pleased if, in lieu of flowers, donations might be made to: any Railroad Club, the Animal Rescue League (, or the Humane Society (

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