John C. Leonard, age 89, passed away on February 28, 2020, at his residence in Baker City. A private memorial service will be held at the Leonard's Mini Ranch in the summer of 2020.
John was born on July 15, 1930, in Cottage Grove, Oregon, to John Brighton Leonard and Lois (Compton) Leonard. He graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 1948, and he served with the United States National Guard Reserves for four years.
Out of high school, John went to work in a sawmill in Cottage Grove; he worked with the Sawyer adjusting the saw blades to get the most lumber out of the log. It was a hot, noisy job where the Sawyer and John could only communicate using hand signals. While doing this work, John noticed log trucks coming and going, delivering logs to the mill. He set his sites on driving the log trucks rather than staying in the mill. A few years later, John purchased his first log truck and began hauling logs.
Around 1962, John and Pat moved to the dry side of Oregon and purchased the 88-cent store in Baker City. Together they operated the store for 36 years, over time the name of the store changed, and it came to be known as Leonard's Idea Shop. John and Pat closed the store in 1997.
While operating a store in town, John and Pat also owned and operated a quarter horse ranch where they bred, raised, and trained quarter horses. It was a family affair as all the Leonard children pitched in by doing all the chores associated with the ranch. These quarter horses were not just for riding, though; they were for racing. For many years they raced the horses all up and down the west coast, putting out many top-notch horses. The first big winner, a stud named Party's Jet, won many races for the Leonard's, they figured nothing would top that horse. Then along came Party Street, an awesome mare who broke track records all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Many of her records still stand today. John felt blessed and was very proud of his family's success on his little mini horse ranch located in Baker County.
In his spare time, John was a dedicated Lion for over 45 years; he volunteered for many Lions service projects, fundraisers, and events. He was the best a Lion could be and will be missed by Lion's members and the community he served through the Lion's.
John is survived by his wife Patsy Leonard of Baker City, Oregon; sons Brad Leonard of Scio, Oregon, Kirk Leonard of La Grande, Oregon, and Rory Leonard of Baker City, Oregon; and a daughter Shan Wattenburger of Redmond, Oregon. John is also survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial contributions in memory of John can be made to the Baker City Lions Club through Gray's West & Company Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Avenue, Baker City, OR 97814.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John C. Leonard, please visit our floral store.