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Former Catawba College First Lady Dies

September 29, 2010

Category: Alumni

LeonardJacqueline Cameron Leonard of Lexington, N.C., a former first lady of Catawba College and wife of the late Dr. Theodore Leonard, Catawba's 17th President, died Sept. 26. Her funeral service was held on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at First Reformed United Church of Christ in Lexington.

Mrs. Leonard was a generous benefactor of Catawba College. She and her late husband established and funded several endowed scholarships and supported several of the institution's capital campaigns. The Leonard Lounge in Catawba's Cannon Student Center bears her surname as a tribute to her generosity. She also made substantial gifts to Catawba's campus ministry, to fund landscaping at the college, to air-condition the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel and to provide a grand piano and padded seat cushions for that facility.

In 2004, Mrs. Leonard was honored by Catawba as the 23rd recipient of its prestigious Adrian L. Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service. At that time, then Catawba President Dr. Robert Knott described her as "an individual who has enriched Catawba College and its community by her support, foresight, and financial contributions."

LeonardAlthough civic-minded, Mrs. Leonard preferred that attention not be focused on her good works. She made her gifts quietly and with no expectation of fanfare. She was a longtime benefactor of Nazareth Children's Home in Rockwell where the Leonard Chapel bears her name and a strong supporter of her church, First Reformed United Church of Christ.

Born in south Davidson County near Denton, Leonard spent most of her life in that county, employed as an educator. She attended High Point College (now High Point University) before completing her undergraduate degree in home economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Thereafter, she taught in schools in Nash and Davidson counties and in Lexington.

She met her late husband, then a history teacher and a 1941 alumnus of Catawba, while instructing at Reeds High School in Davidson County and the couple married in 1943. She retired from Lexington High School in the early 1960s. Although the Leonards had no children of their own, they instead parented the many students they discovered in their classrooms. When Dr. Leonard took the helm as Catawba College's 17th president in 1980, serving in that capacity for only one year, Mrs. Leonard was by his side, serving as first lady of the college.

Mrs. Leonard was predeceased by Dr. Leonard in 2000 and has no immediate survivors.