OBITUARY

Donald Leonard

December 7, 1937July 24, 2018
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The Honorable Judge Don Leonard, retired judge of the Texas State Criminal District Court Number Three of Tarrant County passed away on July 24, 2018.

Don was born on December 7, 1937, to Albert and Jessie Leonard and was raised in Waco, Texas. He attended Tarleton College and went to the University of Texas in Austin where he received a degree in Business Administration and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

After law school, he moved his family to Fort Worth to work as an assistant city attorney and then became a municipal court judge from 1963 to 1966, at the age of 25, considered to be the youngest judge at the time. He went on to form his private practice in civil, criminal and family law from 1966 to 1982. In 1982 he was elected to the bench of Criminal District Court Number Three, a post he held for five terms undefeated. Judge Leonard’s community and civil activities have included former and current memberships in the Tarrant County Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, the Western and Northern District Federal Bar Association, the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, the State College of the Judiciary, the Southside Optimist club and St Stephen Presbyterian church.

Don was a graduate of the National Judicial College, was appointed by the Honorable Gib Lewis to serve on a committee studying the role of the family in reducing recidivism, served on the Tarrant County Crime District Board of Directors and was a former chairman of the Board of Judges and the Juvenile Board. He was awarded the prestigious Silver Gavel Award for his outstanding judicial service by the Tarrant County Bar Association.

He was a proud Longhorn and loved football, along with golf, hunting, and fishing. Most of all he enjoyed spending time with his family at home on the lake. He was also known for his fairness and sense of humor. Dad lived his life as a good, faithful, Christian man.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Jessie Leonard and his son-n-law Phillip Walker. He is survived by his loving wife, Judy, of 62 years, along with his two daughters Debra Walker, Cynthia Leonard, and son-n-law Henry Encina; five grandchildren, Donald Leonard and wife Nadejda, Megan Benavides and husband Russell, Shelby Walker, Saralyn Walker, and Samuel Encina; six great grandchildren, Austin, Donny, Lillian, Aubrey, Carson, and London. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, or a favorite charity of your choice.

May he rest in peace.

Funeral Service will be held Monday, July 30, 2018 at 11:00 am at the Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota Street, Austin, Texas.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, 1206 E. 9th Street has given permission to use their parking lot that opens up on Navasota.

Rooms have been blocked at the Embassy Suites Town Lake, 300 S. Congress Ave., Austin, 512-469-9000 under "Leonard Memorial".

Services

  • Funeral Service Monday, July 30, 2018
  • Burial Monday, July 30, 2018
REMEMBERING

Donald Leonard

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Art Brender

August 1, 2018

Don Leonard was an outstanding lawyer, judge, and family man, whose dedication to the Constitution and all that it stands for was unequaled. When Don was seeking his first judicial post, my wife, Lynda, was our Democratic Committeewoman, seeking to become the second woman of the 31-member Texas Senate in the 1982 Democratic Primary. They campaigned for votes of union members outside the gates of General Dynamics, Bell Helicopter, General Motors, and several other facilities. In the struggle for justice and equality, there was no question about where they stood and who they stood with. To Judy and Don’s entire family, Lynda Gayle and I express our deepest sympathies.

Don Gandy

July 28, 2018

Having made a living speaking and writing, I'm at a loss for words. Practicing law before Judge Leonard was always a pleasure, even during those times of stress and high emotion. He had a wonderful judicial demeanor with the uncanny ability to put the lawyers, parties and witnesses at ease with his wry wit and charm. Any decision he made was well thought out and firmly based in common sense, compassion and fairness. We are better lawyers and persons for having known him. My deepest condolences to his family.

Anita McKesson

July 27, 2018

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all the family. I enjoyed working with him at Tarrant County. An honorable and respected Judge. He had a great sense of humor too. I am so very sorry for your loss.

Scott Wisch

July 27, 2018

I will be out of state next week and regret I cannot properly honor “His Honor” with my presence at the service. I would send my respects and affection to Judy and family, and my gratitude for the years of friendship, encouragement, mentoring... and entertainment ... provided by Hon Don. We in Tarrant County are grateful to have shared life’s road with you for awhile. Godspeed as you change lanes.

LAUREN BURDETT

July 27, 2018

I remember the day he swore me in as a Bail bondsman (woman). Had many dealings with him in court and he was one of my favorite judges. He was fair and honest and showed a sense of humor whenever he could. My sympathy for all of his family.

bruce ashworth

July 27, 2018

judge Leonard was a good friend to the ashworth family, and a fair judge who always tried to do the right thing. RIP Judge Leonard

Sheila Randolph

July 27, 2018

When he wasn't in trial, Judge Leonard's chambers were often packed with attorneys who dropped by to say hello and to hear his stories. I was one of them. He was an important man but he never lost his humility, and was just as likely to stop by the store and pick up a mess of collard greens for an elderly lady in Como and he was to hobnob with the wealthy and powerful at a country club. They don't make good people like Don Leonard anymore. He will be missed.

Joe Davis

July 27, 2018

Judge Leonard was a special friend and supporter of mine he will be missed, a true friend.

mark daniel

July 27, 2018

judge don leonard was more than special. kind, witty, gracious, forgiving, patient and a loyal friend who never took himself too seriously. he was good to so many people. and did it all without an ounce of ego. he was the best. he will be missed.

Diane Drago

July 26, 2018

Don will always be in our thoughts and hearts as a very special friend. He and Judy were one of the first couples joe and I met when we moved to Fort Worth. Since 1966 we have been like family and enjoyed watching our children grow up together. We treasure those memories. We had a lot of fun and laughs along the way. We respected Don as a wonderful person, judge, family man and dear friend. Judy , our prayers are with you and all your family. Love, Diane