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Obituary for Eugene G. "Gene" Leonard


Eugene G. "Gene" Leonard
 
Eugene G. "Gene" Leonard, 85, of La Crosse, died Wednesday, May 25, 2011, at his home.
He was born July 8, 1925, in La Crosse to Frank and Leona (Eckelberg) Leonard. Gene graduated from Logan High School in 1942 and started working at G. Heileman Brewing Co., both in La Crosse. He entered the United States Navy and was assigned to a LCSL65. Gene served in the Okinawa Campaign on one of the first ships that was at Yokosuka, Japan when the war ended and served as part of the occupation force in Japan. On October 25, 1947, he married Janice M. Kleinhaus in La Crosse and they celebrated over 62 years of marriage together.  She preceded him in death on December 29, 2009, after she spent close to four years as a resident of the Clairbridge Cottage Alzheimer's Assisted Living in La Crosse.  Gene spent his working years in city sales with Pepsi Cola and both Peerless and Old Style Breweries.  He then worked at Low Motors and Eversole Rogers and also opened his own indoor used car business at 3rd and King Streets.  Gene later became the general manager of Dahl Ford, the general manager for the Pennzoil Distribution, La Crosse operation, and the general manager of the River States Truck and Trailer Co., La Crosse, from which he retired in August of 1987.  After he retired, Gene represented the La Crosse Automobile Dealers Group on several occasions and hosted truck shows for the area heavy duty truck dealers in both La Crosse and Eau Claire markets.  He also represented his friend, Carl Schneider, who lives in Eureka, Calif., as project manager for the Honda building and the Blue Tiger building on Third Street. Gene was a member of the La Crosse Toastmaster's since 1954 and the La Crosse Jaycees for 57 years. He served on the La Crosse School Board in the 1960's and was also an active member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in La Crosse since 1954, serving in many capacities over the years. He also served on the board of the La Crosse Center, had been involved in selling the old Mary Sawyer Auditorium, and most recently served on the redevelopment authority. Gene was also a member of the LCSL 1-130 Association of the navy men that served on one of the 130 LCSL ships during WWII.  For many years, he and Jan went to the annual LCSL conventions which were always held in a different city. Each year, they had a lot of opportunity to travel, covering most of America and knew people in almost every place they went, including many trips to Hawaii.  Gene had an interesting life and everything that he did, he considered fun. But the vehicle business was his favorite and it allowed him to meet thousands of people over the years, many who were in their own way dynamic individuals. To sum it up, if he could do it all over again, he wouldn't have to change a thing. La Crosse was a city that always looked like the best place in the world to live.
Gene is survived by his daughters, Karen Bendickson (Dave Lee) of Rochester, Minn. and Katherine (Donald) Gautsch of Black River Falls, Wis.; his son, Paul Leonard of Springbrook, Wis.; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by his parents; an infant son, Ronald Leonard; an infant daughter, Cynthia Jean Leonard; and two sisters, Dorothy Leonard King and Nancy (Vince) Hogden. 
Funeral services will be Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 12:00 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4141 Mormon Coulee Rd., La Crosse. Rev. Roger Hjelle will officiate. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery, La Crosse, with military honors by the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post 52, La Crosse, and the U.S. Navy Funeral Honor Guard. Friends may call at the church on Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. until the time of the service.  In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Alzheimer's Association.
Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Home, (Woodruff Chapel), La Crosse, is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences may be sent at www.jandtfredrickson.com .