Michael Heaton Leonard, 87, of Canton, died Friday, February 26, 2021 at home with family by his side. Born in Denver on August 2, 1933 to Frank and Rosanne (Mielenz) Leonard and raised across the western states while his father pursued oil fields, he landed in Casper, WY where he was active with the Boy Scouts and learned to rock climb with 10th Mountain Division veterans. He attended Alhambra High School in Alhambra, CA, where he was active with the Sierra Club. A member of the Harvard Class of 1955, he lived in Winthrop House, rowed crew on the Charles River, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The National Education Defense Act allowed him to attend Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA 1957) and he trained at Fort Hunter Liggett. Michael earned his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Southern California (1967) which started his career teaching English and brought him to the University of Vermont and Simon’s Rock of Bard College. A Canton resident for 41 years, he found his calling at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT, where he chaired the English department and was known as Dr. Love to many of his students. After 25 years at Walker’s, Michael retired in 1998 and enjoyed his time trout fishing on the Farmington River, traveling with his dear wife Lynda, patronizing Hartford’s art and cultural institutions, volunteering for the campaigns of state Democrats, and serving on the Canton Public Library board of directors. He will be remembered for his gentlemanly manner, his love of nature and the arts, and his preference for the Oxford comma.
He is survived by his son William Gunerius "Gus" Leonard, his wife Denese Joyce Sanders Leonard and their two children, Emma Marie Strand and Sophia Rose Leonard; daughter, Anne Elizabeth Leonard and her husband Daniel Campo; daughter, Katharine Gleason Leonard; his stepdaughter Kate Jordan Kelley, her husband Claud Cloete and their two children, Rhys Frederick Cloete and Ceilia Elisabeth Cloete; his stepdaughter, Abigail Tansill Kelley and her two children, Henry Tansill Johnston and Miles Frederick Johnston. He was predeceased by his wives Molly Gleason Leonard in 1983 and Lynda Kay Kelley in 2021.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Farmington River Watershed Association or the Michael H. Leonard Endowed Fund for the Study of Writing and the English Language of the Ethel Walker Schoo l are gratefully accepted. A memorial will be held once possible. The Vincent Funeral Home of Canton is caring for the arrangements. Please visit Michael’s “Book of Memories” at www.vincentfuneralhome.com for online tributes.