James “Jim” Vernon Leonard, 90, of Morris, passed away peacefully Thursday, July 2, 2020 at home with his loving family by his side. Born May 2, 1930 in Princeton, Illinois, he was the son of the late Valentine Vernon and Elvina (Johnston) Leonard.
Jim was a graduate from Hall High School in Spring Valley with the class of 1949. He married his sweetheart Violetta “Vi” Charles on January 2, 1953. Jim proudly served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War where he provided railroad security for prisoner exchange called “Operation Big Switch”. He had the longest membership with the Morris Color Guard, having been a member for 35 years and a member of the Masonic Lodge in Mazon. He was a signalman on the Rock Island Railroad and CSX Railroad for over 30 years, a member and trustee of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Morris, and co-chairman of the Soap Box Derby for the Grundy County Corn Festival in Morris. Jim was president and member of the Morris Community High School Board and helped with the development of MALS (Morris Area Leisure Service). He was a HAM radio operator and enjoyed the company of the many coffee groups around town. His love for his family and friends was limitless.
Jim is survived by his wife, Vi; son James (Robin) Leonard of Mahomet, Il; daughter Susan (George) Held of St. Charles; grandchildren Zach (Jessica) Leonard of San Diego, CA, Travis (Alissa) Leonard of Lake Balboa, CA, Anna Held of Madison, WI, Carter Held of St. Charles, IL; and great grandson Jase Zachariah Leonard of San Diego, CA.
He is preceded in death by his parents.
Memorials may be made in Jim’s name to Bethlehem Lutheran Church or to the Morris Color Guard.
A private family gathering will be held on July 9, 2020 at the U.C. Davis-Callahan Funeral Home. Burial will be held at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery with military honors presented by the Morris Color Guard.
An online guestbook has been made for the family, where you may sign the guestbook, share memories and photographs. You can access this by visiting the website ucdaviscallahan.com
Arrangements have been entrusted with U.C. Davis-Callahan Funeral Home, 301 W. Washington Street, Morris, IL.