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The life of Robert J. Leonard

Robert Leonard was a son of Albert Jay and Rose Ellen (Hollenbeck) Leonard. Albert and Rose were married in Willet, Cortland County, New York, on July 12, 1922. Rose's mother, Mary Ellen (McGinnis) Hollenbeck, had passed away the previous month, on June 10th, at the age of 62. Albert was 27 and Rose was two years his elder.

Robert was born September 16, 1924, in Willet, Cortland County, New York. By the time he was nine months old, his parents were separated. When the New York State Census was taken in 1925, he was living in Willet with his mother, grandfather, and older half-brother, Billy, a son of Hugh Reagan.

Robert Leonard has yet to be found on the 1950 census

When Robert registered for the draft at the age of 18, he was 5'11" tall and weighed 185 pounds. He had blue eyes, brown hair, and a light complexion, according to the registrar's report. He was not drafted for the war, but, soon after left his mother's homestead in Willet and took employment with the Cortland County Highway Department, a lifelong career he maintained for about 30 years, while living in Cortland New York.

On April 2, 1949, his mother's home on Leonard Road in Willet was burned to the ground with his 28-year old brother, Billy, inside. It was a traumatic event for Robert and his mother, to say the least.

Robert retired from the highway department in 1980 due to failing health. He suffered from diabetes and had both legs amputated before he died on November 20, 1982. The official cause of death was cardio-respiratory arrest, suspected myocardial infarction, and diabetes mellitus. He was buried in Marathon Village Cemetery but has no stone marking his grave.

Robert fathered five sons and a daughter who grew to adulthood and had children, although he wasn't legally married until 1978, four years before he died. He had at least 18 grandchildren and has at least as many great-grandchildren living today. To learn more about his ancestors, see the Leonard page.


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