Alexander C. Leonard '42

Alex Leonard, a long time employee of the John Hancock Insurance Company, died on March 8, 2007, at Shard Villa Community Care Home in Salisbury, VT.  Alex was born on December 25, 1919, in Albany, NY, but grew up in Bennington, VT, and graduated from Bennington High before coming to Amherst.  

At Amherst, Alex joined the Phi Gam fraternity and sang in the Glee Club.  He left Amherst in March of ’42 to join the US Navy.  Assigned to operational intelligence work in Boston, he found a wife in the WAVES, Jane “Betta” Cartwright (Michigan ’41), whom he married in September ’43.  

Shortly thereafter, following four months of training, he was sent to Chungking, China, where he spent the rest of the war providing intelligence and weather information to the fleet from mainland China.

Back in civilian life, Alex attended the Univ. of Virginia Law School, earning his law degree in 1948.  He then joined the John Hancock Insurance Company legal department in Boston.  With the exception of a two-year recall to active duty in the US Navy during the Korean War, Alex spent the rest of his working career handling an assortment of legal problems for John Hancock.  

After retiring in 1984, Alex kept himself busy with traveling, reading, painting, candlepin bowling, and playing the piano.  In reflecting on his enjoyment of retirement in his write-up for our 50 year Reunion book, Alex recalled a wartime conversation with a Chinese businessman in which he mentioned that he, Alex, was an Amherst College graduate.  The businessman replied, “Ah yes, Amherst.  That’s where they don’t teach you much of practical value, only how to live and be happy.”  Alex didn’t remember his response at the time but said that in 1998, it would certainly be, “And what could be of more practical value.”

Alex, whose sense of humor was a delight to his family, lost his wife of fifty-nine years in 2002 and is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.  

—Ted Heisler ’42