Vol. 79, No. 10, October
Letters to the
editor: The Wisconsin Lawyer publishes as many letters in each
issue as space permits. Please limit letters to 500 words; letters may
be edited for length and clarity. Letters should address the issues, and
not be a personal attack on others. Letters endorsing political
candidates cannot be accepted. Please mail letters to " Letters to the
Editor," Wisconsin Lawyer, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, fax
them to (608) 257-4343, or email them.
Remembering Jerris Leonard
On July 27 of this year, Jerris Leonard, one of the founding members
of the State Bar of Wisconsin Nonresident Lawyers Division, passed away
at the age of 75 at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. As president of
the NRLD, as his former law partner, and as a long-time friend, I want
to share some thoughts in commemoration of
his life and work.
Although he resided in the Washington, D.C., area for the past 37
years, Leonard maintained strong ties to Wisconsin and
the State Bar of Wisconsin. He played a leadership role for many years
in the National Capital Chapter of the NLRD. His efforts
on behalf of the State Bar and Wisconsin were recognized when he
received the Belle Case LaFollette Outstanding
Professional Award from the Wisconsin Law Foundation in 1998, and in
2000 a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquette University.
He maintained an active law practice until his death, concentrating
his efforts on lobbying before the U.S. Congress
and administrative agencies as well as litigation. During his career
he took part in several major libel cases, including a successful
case against television personality Geraldo Rivera. His clients
included Muhammad Ali, former Wisconsin governor and former chair
of the Federal Election Commission Vernon Thompson, as well as
President George H.W. Bush when Mr. Bush served as chair of
the Republican National Committee. He argued five cases before the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Leonard received his law and undergraduate degrees from Marquette
University (J.D. 1955; B.A. 1952) and served as
president of the Marquette student body in 1954-55. He was elected to
the Wisconsin State Assembly at the age of 25,
representing Milwaukee's North Shore suburbs. In 1960 he was elected
to the Wisconsin Senate and served as Republican majority leader
In 1969, following an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, Leonard
was nominated by President Nixon and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, first
as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and later as the first
administrator of the Law
Enforcement Assistance Administration.
Leonard was a real leader who brought an infectious Irish enthusiasm
to every task. He was intensely loyal to his family,
his church, his clients, his friends, and his party, but he worked
often and worked well with those who did not share his views. More
than 600 people, including U.S. senators and representatives from both
sides of the aisle, attended his funeral service at Saint
Aloysius Church in Washington, D.C.
Two weeks before he died, Jerris and the extended Leonard family
gathered for their annual family reunion at the
usual location _ Lake Manitowish in northern Wisconsin. He is survived
by his wife of 52 years, Mariellen Mathie Leonard, two
daughters, four sons, 15 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
He will be deeply missed by his family and by all his many friends.
Daniel F. Rinzel, NRLD president