Born in Watervliet, MI March 25, 1948 to H. George & Hazel (Bedford) Leonard. Phillip graduated from Covert High School in 1966. He won the coveted Bausch and Lomb State Science Award, broke the school record for the mile run, was on the mile relay team winning the 1965 and 1966 State Track meet, medaled in cross country and was manager for the 1965 & 1966 Covert H. S. (Bulldogs) Basketball Champions and won state awards for classical piano. Phillip, nicknamed Strawberry while at Lake Michigan College, went on to graduate with an associates in musical appreciation but was a member of a feature group called the Chosen Few. A musical group of men and women, black and white, who became a beacon of light for diversity during the mid- 60’s, touring almost all southwest Michigan high schools during an intense time in this country’s history.
Phillip was married to Antonia Coleman, their son Phillip Jr., was born to this union. Phillip worked in the painting crew on the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA and played the local music scene. He married the love of his life Edna Jones, (Doe) her son Ryan Jones made up his family in Covert. Phil retired as a painting supervisor after 15 years from the State of Michigan Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. He was forever getting together local groups of musicians and doing “walk-ons” for any live bands in the area that would have him. They soon found out that his piano and flute playing were almost always a welcome addition.
Phillip was the pianist for many churches, including, Emmanuel Community Church, Covert Community and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church whose Pastor Charles Knox, picked him up most Sundays right up until his dementia took over his talent. He also played for his fellow residents constantly during his 2 year stay, with exuberance until he was unable to.
Phillip was a hard worker, played hard and always gave of himself to anyone who needed him. His family, friends and neighbors will miss his infectious laughter and smile.
Phillip was preceded in death by his parents H. George & Hazel Leonard; and his brother Harold Leonard. He is survived by his wife Edna “Doe” Leonard; brothers Arnold (Sadie) Leonard, Stephen (Patricia) Leonard, sister Miriam (George) Saleeby of Benton Harbor, MI: sons Phillip Jr. (Elisa) Leonard of Porter Ranch, CA, Ryan Jones, Coloma, MI; grandchildren Ryan Jones Jr. , Kalamazoo, MI Aurielle Barlow, Romelo Jones, Aaron Cantu, Jacinda Cantu; and a host of nephews, nieces and cousins.
There will be a Celebration of Life Gathering on Friday, October 4th from 5-8 PM at the Van Buren United Civic Center at 73292 34th Ave., Covert. The funeral will be Saturday, October 5th at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church 5424 105th Avenue, Pullman, MI with eulogy delivered by Pastor Charles Knox. Family visitation will be at 10 AM followed by a service at 11 AM.
In lieu of flowers, send donations marked “Phillip Leonard Sr. – Music & the Arts” as a memoriam for the Covert High School Music program, and address checks to Stephen Leonard c/o Phillip Leonard Sr.-Music.