Jack Arthur Leonard, 83, passed away Oct. 10, 2017 at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. He was born January 20, 1934 in Columbus, Ohio to Clarence Arthur Leonard and Emma Jean Ferbrache. He was the little brother to Nancy, with whom he shared a very special bond. During the heart of the Depression, tragedy struck the family with the loss of jobs and the death of his grandmother during childbirth. His parents divorced and his father moved to work for the railroad in California. For a time, he was sent to live at the County Orphanage with Nancy and two young uncles. Financial circumstances sent the young children, Nancy and Jack, to ride the train all the way from Ohio to Sacramento to live with their father and step-mother, Lorraine and new siblings. This began Jack’s fascination with “the rails” and seeking adventure. He ran away from home several times from the age of twelve. He would hide in “bum camps” and warm his hands over the burning trash cans with grown men. One time while riding under a train headed for Nevada, he was shot in the arm with his homemade pistol. He had to leave the train and call his dad to come and get him at the hospital. That was his last runaway.
His wanderings finally took him to Utah where he lied about his age to get his first real job at Kennecott Copper Mine, having only an eighth-grade education. He soon met a cute blonde-haired girl named Rhea Lue Frandsen and they were married 30 December 1952. Eleven months after, they had a son, Jackie Ray, who died two days after his birth. Jack started working for Murray City and they were blessed with another son, Jeffrey Steven. Not even one year later their daughter, Polly, was born. Jack hired on at Utah Power and Light in Preston, Idaho. Rhea always worked in or ran her own beauty shop wherever they lived. He was an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman who loved riding horses, camping, and riding ATVs. They went on many family vacations from California to Canada, spending as much time in the mountains as possible. He loved the State of Idaho and Saturday morning horse rides with his friends. Over his power company career, he also worked in Shelley, Idaho and Smithfield, Utah - eventually moving back to and retiring from the Preston office. He enjoyed a fun-filled and lengthy retirement with Rhea by his side. They were lucky to have many friends to enjoy their adventures with. They loved going to meet up with many friends and relatives in Arizona for the winter and venturing into Mexico.
Jack was a private and quiet family man. He loved his children and grandchildren and enjoyed teasing and playing tricks on them. From monkeys in the garage to stealing the grandkids’ nickels in his ‘slot machine’, he created a home where there was always excitement. He delighted in spoiling all the grandkids and great-grandkids with candy before dinner and every pet dog with more table food than was healthy! He would plan a whole day around his bath-time ritual. The plug wasn’t pulled until he had listened to every song on his Wild Roses CD.
Jack was always an ardent reader and his life epitomized the saying of “a self-made man”. He was a tender and patient caregiver to Rhea during her final years - never wanting to leave her side. After she passed away in 2014, he continued learning and became a “techy”- using Facebook and surfing the internet with his iPhone and iPad.
In August, Jeff’s entire family and a special niece, Amanda, went camping in Ririe, Idaho to enjoy one last adventure with Jack. He loved experiencing the solar eclipse and said it was a highlight in his life. On that same trip, at age 83, he rode ten ziplines - determining that if he died doing it, “Well, what a way to go!”
Although his heart failed him in the end, we know it was huge one - with enough love in it to accept every family member and friend into his life. His absence leaves a big hole in our hearts.
Jack is survived by Jeff (Jenni) of Preston; Polly (Paul) of Nampa; grandchildren, Melissa (Justin) Stuart of Ogden; Tyra (Brock) Williamson of Farmington; Kelsey (Brandon) Muir of Smithfield; Jake Leonard of Wellsville; Stacy (Jesse) Cook of Boise; and Jessica Heitzinger of Nampa and his buddy, Gizmo. His great-grandchildren are: Kennedy, Mason, Adalyn, and Dawson Muir; Karlee, Kaden, and Adric Williamson; Gus Stuart; Connor Heitzinger; and Awen and Jael Cook. He was preceded in death by his wife, Rhea; son, Jackie Ray; and great-grandson, Dax Williamson.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at Webb Funeral Home, 1005 South 800 East, Preston, Idaho. Friends may call Saturday from 11:30 am-12:30 pm at the mortuary. Interment will be in the Whitney, Idaho Cemetery. Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.webbmortuary.com