Larry Leonard, popular Mason Elementary staffer, dies falling from hunting tree stand
August 24, 2011
By Sheldon Gardner, St.Augustine.com
Larry Leonard was more than a maintenance coordinator at Otis A.
Mason Elementary School.
He was a father figure and mentor to thousands of children who
attended the school since it opened in 1992.
"He was a good soul with a sweet spirit," said former Otis Mason
Principal Edwina Russell. "I can't imagine [the school] without
Leonard, 59, of St. Augustine, died Aug. 20 in an Augusta, Ga.,
hospital after a hunting accident in Allendale, S.C., involving a
tree stand, a family member said. He leaves behind his wife, son,
daughter-in-law, three grandchildren, two brothers, and several
nieces and nephews.
"Larry was a very well-known person and has touched many people's
lives," the Leonard family wrote in a letter to The St. Augustine
Leonard loved the children at Otis Mason, coworkers said. And
every morning, students could look forward to seeing Leonard at the
entrance waiting to greet them.
"He had a rapport with children that was unparalleled," said
physical education coach Chip Hollister. "You would see tens and
tens of kids waiting to give him a hug."
Children loved spending time with "Mr. Leonard" so much that it
was used as a motivational tool, said kindergarten teacher Molly
She remembered one kindergartner who had behavioral issues. If
the child acted properly, he got to spend time with Leonard as a
"His behavior improved just to hang out with Mr. Leonard,"
Beverly Newland, the receptionist at Otis Mason, had worked with
Leonard since the school opened. She remembered him as a man who did
as much as he could to help others.
"He was the epitome of a true gentleman -- kind and generous,"
He was a perfectionist, an avid hunter, a dedicated worker and a
sweet man, among other things, Russell said.
But, most of all, he will be remembered by how he loved the
"Can you imagine how many thousands of children whose lives he
touched?" Russell asked.
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