James J. Leonard, Jr. took his last breath at home, surrounded by his family, on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at the age of 81. Jim was also born on a Saturday – on January 13, 1940 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Ann and Jim Leonard.
After several moves, the family settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where Jim attended Mannheim Township High School. He proved to be a tremendous athlete, starring in football, basketball and baseball, earning the opportunity to play both football and baseball at Brown University. In his Senior year at Brown, Jim was the Captain of the baseball team.
He was also an exceptional student, graduating Cum Laude from Brown in 1962, and was admitted to The Law School at the University of Notre Dame. The love of his life, Sue Ann Coumbe, became Sue Ann Leonard in 1963 and joined Jim in South Bend where they lived in married student housing, Jim played full-contact intramural football and where they welcomed their first two children, Debbie and Mike, before his graduation in 1965.
As they were heading West, destined for Los Angeles, they stopped in Phoenix for a job interview and never left. Jim was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1966 and practiced for nearly five decades, most of them with his law partner and best friend Ken Clancy. He took tremendous pride in representing injured victims of medical negligence, particularly birth-injured children. His was a remarkable and accomplished career with record-setting verdicts both locally and in multiple other States across the nation.
Jim Leonard was known to be kind, generous, a devout Catholic and, above all else, a family man. After his family, he took the most pride in helping others. He was a professional mentor to other attorneys, a lecturer at professional conventions, a coach in youth sports, a selfless father and grandfather and a volunteer delivery driver for the St. Vincent DePaul.
Jim is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sue Ann Leonard, sister Judy Gerboth, children Mike (Cheresa), Amy Cisowski (Steve), Brian (Amy), Sean and son-in-law Tom Wood (Kathy). He is also survived by his grandchildren Max Wood (Courtney), Jack Wood, Courtney Webster (Roland), Casey Vogt, Conor Leonard, Reagan Leonard, Taylor Leonard, Matthew Leonard, Patrick Leonard, Bella Leonard and great-granddaughter Chandler Wood. He is also survived by nephews Mark Gerboth (Laurie) and Tucker Coumbe, and nieces Wendy Gerboth and Amanda Bothwell. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Debbie Wood and son Kevin Leonard.
He truly was a man for others. We are immensely proud to call him our husband, father and friend.
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 4715 N Central Avenue, Phoenix on Monday, March 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. to which all are welcome to attend with a mask and/or other personal protection safeguards. The Mass will also be livestreamed at https://sfxphx.org/livestream
Although it is not specifically requested nor expected, those wishing to make donations in Jim’s honor are encouraged to donate to the St. Vincent DePaul. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com
Rosemary and larry
We are sending condolences to all the family. Jim was a caring, loving, faithful and generous man. We feel privileged to have known Jim. He will be missed by so many. May God wrap his arms around you today and in the days ahead. May God give you the strength and peace you need. ❤
Jim represented me in a medical malpractice case in 1995. He was a brilliant lawyer and his efforts resulted in a very favorable settlement. I first saw Jim as a litigator when I served as a Superior Court judge. He was brilliant in the courtroom, one of the smartest lawyers that I ever met. I will forever be grateful to this kind and gentle soul. My prayers are with his wife and family. Know that your husband, dad, grandpa touched many many lives during his years of service. Jim will be missed.
I’m so sorry for your loss. In the 1990’s, as a young lawyer defending hospitals, I defended a number of cases brought by Jim and Ken. Despite being opponents, we got along well, never making our litigation disputes personal. Ken and I drove together, usually in Ken’s beat-up old car, to a number of depositions in rural towns; Jim volunteered his time in putting on a mock trial against me for an educational program for health care providers. I remember one client Jim and Ken represented in the early 1990’s , who suffered from a devastating birth injury, and I was so impressed with their description of all the ways the settlement money would buy things that would improve the life of their client. We could clearly see that they cared about their client. I remember playing pick-up basketball with Jim a lot at the Renaissance club. I was impressed that he played well for an older guy. What he lacked in height, he made up for in intensity. Jim Leonard was a good guy. After 17 years defending lawsuits, I became a plaintiffs lawyer in 2004,, and have tried to follow the examples Jim and Ken set – take only good, meritorious cases; stay honest; do the work needed to get the most for your client; treat your adversaries with respect and dignity. Jim was a good man who made the world a better place.
Emilio Rodriguez Izquierdo
Jim was a devoted Vincentian. For the last three years that I joined the SFX Conference, I’ve seen him always around. Jim the first one to be available and filled every gap we needed. I wish some day I would be as generous and dedicated as he was.
I am very sorry for his loss. I truly believe he is already in heaven silently looking and supporting us, sharing our Lord’s glory.
It is with sadness tht I receive this news. Please, Leonard family know I have you in my prayers. I will always remember my father’s stories about Jim and his brillianace. He so enjoyed working you Jim and Ken. I am sending prayers and peace
Dear Leonard family, thank you so very much for sharing Jim with our St. Vincent de Paul conference at St. Francis Xavier Parish. Jim was a valued, devoted and humble servant. Much of what we do in our pantry is not glamorous work. Jim understood this and did anything and everything he could, to help the less fortunate in our parish neighborhood. Rest in peace, Jim.
SFX conference of SVdPaul
Carol and I send our heartfelt condolences to Sue Ann, Brian, and the entire Leonard family. Jim and I were frequent adversaries in his medical malpractice cases. His preparation, intensity and ferocity for his clients was legendary, yet we grew to enjoy a mutually respectful and affectionate relationship. Jim and Ken Clancy were a formidable pair who represented their injured clients zealously while maintaining a professional and even congenial relationship with their opponents. He was totally devoted to Sue Ann and the rest of his family. We will miss his sparkling smile. and quick wit.
I did not know Jim well,but remember some very competive basketball games at the YMCA when we were much younger. Jim did not like to lose that is for sure. Ken Clancy and Mike O’Melia also played in the games.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leonard family at this difficult time.
Blessings, Chuck Hallam
It is one of my greatest joys to have known Jim. He always had a smile and, as a volunteer, was kind, considerate and generous. He did take time for anyone and everyone and made your day better having spent that moment or two with him.
Heaven most certainly gained another soul.
Meg & John Faylor
Was a beautiful service that was. I wish we could have been there in person but the livestream was wonderful. The eulogy Brian gave was beautiful. What a beautiful life and a sweet soul. Rest In Peace Jim.