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    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 79, No. 10, October 2006


    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 1967-68.

    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
    Alexandria, Va.