Phillip Harry Leonard
Phillip Harry Leonard passed away Sept. 27, 2019, at Golden Orchards Assisted Living in Fennville.
Phillip was born in Watervliet on March 25, 1948, to H. George and Hazel (Bedford) Leonard. He graduated from Covert High School in 1966. He won the Bausch & Lomb State Science Award, broke the school record for the mile run, was on the mile relay team winning the 1965 and 1966 state track meet, medaled in cross country and was manager for the 1965 and 1966 Covert High School (Bulldogs) basketball champions. Phillip, nicknamed Strawberry while at Lake Michigan College, went on to graduate with an associate's in musical appreciation, but was a member of a feature group called the Chosen Few – a musical group of men and women, black and white, who became a beacon of light for diversity during the mid-60s, touring almost all Southwest Michigan high schools during an intense time in this country’s history.
Phillip was married to Antonia Colman, and their son Phillip Jr. was born to this union. Phillip worked as a painter on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and played the local music scene. He married the love his life, Edna Jones (Doe), and her son Ryan Jones made up his family in Covert.
Phil retired after 15 years from the State Psychiatric Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was forever getting together local groups of musicians and doing “walk-ons” for any live bands in the area that would have him. They soon found out that his piano and flute playing were almost always a welcome addition.
Phillip was the pianist for many churches, including Emmanuel Community Church, Covert Community and Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, whose pastor, Charles Knox, picked him up most Sundays right up until his dementia took over his talent.
Phillip was a hard worker, played hard and always gave of himself to anyone who needed him. His family, friends and neighbors will miss his laughter and smile.
There will be a Celebration of Life Gathering from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Van Buren United Civic Center, 73292 34th Ave., Covert. The funeral will be Saturday, Oct. 5, at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, 5424 105th Ave., Pullman, with the eulogy by Pastor Charles Knox. Visitation will be at 10 a.m., followed by a service at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, send donations marked “Phillip Leonard Sr. – Music, Arts & Science Donation” as a memorial for Covert High School. Address checks to Stephen Leonard / Phillip Leonard. Kindly share your thoughts and memories on the family’s online guestbook at www.FilbrandtFFH.com.
The family is being helped by the Filbrandt Family Funeral Home in South Haven, 637-0333.