William S. "Bud" Leonard

July 09, 1929 - June 29, 2020

Bud Leonard

In the arms of family and blanketed in love, William S. “Bud” Leonard peacefully passed from his earthly vessel Monday, June 29, 2020. He was 90 years old. A wordsmith and artist with a servant’s heart, Bud made the world a better place – and he will be missed by many.

Bud was born in Kingsville, Texas, on July 9, 1929, the second child of Effie Pelletere Leonard and William S. Leonard. His father was an Irish railroad man and his mother a first-generation U.S.-born child of Italian immigrants. Tragedy struck the family when the young patriarch died, leaving Effie to raise then 4-year-old Bud and sister Doris Marie Leonard (Evans). Effie and the children explored Texas – living in Houston and Freeport before settling in Austin, where Bud would fondly recollect growing up on Barton Creek, where he swam, fished, hunted and camped out.

In junior high, Bud met his first love – football, a love affair that would eventually take him through college and away from his Austin roots. After graduating from Austin High School, the oldest Texas high school still in existence, in 1948, Bud followed football, and high school coach Stan Lambert, to Beaumont. Lambert had been offered the head coaching job at Lamar Junior College beginning that fall, and he offered Bud and six of his high school teammates the opportunity to attend college and still play the game they loved. It was a dream come true for Bud, and he relished the time he had on the field – as well as the friendships he was able to continue with his high school buddies, all of whom remained close until death parted them.

Bud didn’t just play football, though – he excelled at it. A local legend, Bud’s tenacity and athleticism not only showed on the field, but it was what got him on the lineup in the first place. Thought “too small” to be a true powerhouse on the football field, Bud fought hard to claim a starting offensive guard position as a freshman at Lamar in the late 1940s. Thanks to Lamar transitioning to a four-year college that earned Bud and his team a fifth year on the field, it was a post he would hold onto for five years while earning successive degrees, co-captaining the infamous 1949 Junior College championship team, and scoring commended marks in the classroom as a top student-athlete.

Better than any college football title, Bud also won the heart of the love of his life while at Lamar, the future Charlene Matthews Leonard. Bud and Charlene married in 1953, embarking on 66-and-a-half years of a blessed life together. Shortly after marrying, Bud joined the U.S. Navy, where he trained to become an aircraft pilot and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. Bud earned his Wings of Gold in 1955 and served his duty flying in a tour that took him from California to Hawaii, Guam, Japan and the Philippines, before being released from active duty in 1957.

The couple lived in Pensacola, Florida; Newport, Rhode Island; and San Diego, California. Their first child, Joni Marie Leonard, was born in 1956. The loving parents, accepting that Joni was born with disabilities that would never allow her to live on her own, made sacrifices their whole lives to care for her and she lives at home until today. Once released from active duty, with baby Joni in tow, the couple moved back home to Texas, settling in Beaumont in 1958, where their son, William S. Leonard, was born.

“Buddy,” as his Aunt Lena would call him, then began a career in Advertising, forming his own company and later merging his firm with Goodwin, Dannenbaum, Littman & Wingfield, one of the largest advertising companies in Houston. He enjoyed a successful career in Advertising while remaining close to Lamar University, becoming instrumental in forming the Cardinal Club, Ex Letterman's Association and the Cardinal Hall of Honor. In 1974, he was called by Dr. John E. Gray (who had been a mentor to him since attending Lamar) to join the Administration at the University. He remained there until his “first retirement” in 1994 as Vice Chancellor of Development. While there, he obtained his Master’s in Speech.

His love and loyalty to Lamar University never wavered, again answering the call to serve his alma mater even in retirement – this time returning to teach for one year, calling it something he “always wanted to do.” Now officially off retirement, Bud then started his own consulting/advertising company that served several local businesses in the area. His last job, before he finally retired (again) at 87, was working for The Modern Group.

Lamar’s archives continue to herald Bud’s contributions to the university for decades after his offensive lineman days – a legacy that culminated with Lamar stadium’s playing field being officially dubbed the W.S. “Bud” Leonard Field in his honor. He served the Ex-Students Association in many capacities, was a member of university’s 50th Anniversary Committee and served as an organizing member of the Fine Arts Department’s Friends of the Arts organization. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2000. To boot, Bud is remembered at the university as “one of the all-time great athletes in Lamar University history.”

Bud’s community involvement endeavors are too numerous to list, and include service for the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Neches River Festival and the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce. Bud and Charlene were active members of their beloved Calder Baptist Church for over 60 years, where he chaired multiple capital campaigns, served as Homecoming Chairman, Deacon, and Sunday School teacher, even at age 90.

Neches River Festival Executive Director Molly Moore, a fellow Calder Baptist parishioner, released a statement after Bud’s passing, recalling the past NRF president and 51st King of the NRF as an asset to the nonprofit’s mission.

“He had a life to be celebrated and leaves a legacy that will last forever in the Beaumont community,” she said. As he would have wished, NRF sent a contribution to the Lamar Otho Plummer Scholarship in his honor.

Bud’s mark on the world can’t be confined to a lifetime, even one that lasts 90 years. He loved the Lord, his wife Charlene, family, friends, his country and life itself. He was especially proud of his twin granddaughters, Anne and Claire, who were the apples of his eye. Bud was likewise proud of son Will, who followed in his father’s footsteps and played football while earning a degree from Lamar University, going on to head BBVA Compass as Regional President. Bud will be remembered fondly for the immense impact he had on the community, and especially Lamar University, for the countless hunting trips he and son Will loved to take together, and the jovial time he had playing golf at the Beaumont Country Club and enjoying the company of the Dun' Workin’ Club, a group of retired men who met monthly to have lunch and tell old stories the family believes were possibly embellished every time they were told.

Bud is survived by his loving wife Charlene Leonard, daughter Joni Leonard, and son Will Leonard and Michelle Adams. He is also survived by grandchildren Anne Kellam Leonard of Los Angeles, California, and Claire Matthews Leonard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; niece Rita McGiver of Georgetown, Texas; nephews Steve Evans of Austin, Texas, and Roger Evans of Killeen, Texas; and cousin Barbara Ann May of Houston, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Doris and nephew Bill Colbert.

A gathering of Bud’s family and friends will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, 2020, at Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. His funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 2020, at Broussard’s. A family committal will be at Broussard’s Crematorium, Beaumont.

Serving as pallbearers will be Bill Pittman, Rick McGiver, Steve Evans, John Johnson, Gary Bajgier, Juan Zabala and Cal Hebert. Honorary pallbearers are the 1953 Football Team of Lamar University and his associates of Lamar University.

Special thanks go to Dr. Doug Wilcox, Dr. Randy Lombardo and Dr. Bodo Brauer; Spindletop Hill Nursing Home and Harbor Hospice; as well as the numerous caregivers who took care of this wonderful man.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Bud’s memory can be made to Lamar University Athletics, P.O. Box 10066, Beaumont, Texas 77710 or to Calder Baptist Church, 1005 North 11th Street, Beaumont, Texas 77702.

“God Bless You Papa…”

Please observe social distancing guidelines. By attending any public event you are acknowledging the risk of exposure to the Corona Virus. Please follow the guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control: cdc.gov


Gathering of Family and Friends
Broussard's Mortuary - McFaddin Ave.
2000 Mcfaddin Street Beaumont, TX 77701
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Funeral Service
Broussard's Mortuary - McFaddin Ave.
2000 Mcfaddin Avenue Beaumont, TX 77701
Thursday, July 02, 2020
2:00 p.m.
Family Committal
Broussard's Crematorium
5150 Stivers Street Beaumont, TX 77705

Comments (47)

  • Coleen Walker....Wimberley,TX

    10 July 2020 at 17:14 | #

    Charlene and family....So sorry to hear of Bud’s passing......many years have passed since we have seen each other but always remember his great smile and welcoming way! He will be missed by many .


  • Sandra Martin

    04 July 2020 at 04:06 | #

    Charlene, Joni, Will & the girls... I just heard about Bud’s passing.. I’m so sorry I missed the services but will try to get over to the house next week... you both were my favorite neighbors ever.. Bud was a wonderful neighbor and friend that will be missed by many.. Beaumont has lost a great man. ♥️ Sandra


  • Donald Fertitta

    03 July 2020 at 18:18 | #

    Rest In Peace Amen...


  • Donald Fertitta

    03 July 2020 at 18:13 | #

    Prayers to the Leonard Family, May Mr Leonard Rest In Peace Amen..


  • Sheila Friedeck

    03 July 2020 at 15:59 | #

    Sincere condolences to Bud’s special lady, Charlene. He was a wonderful man, a fine gentleman who made a huge difference in so many ways and so many lives in this community. I don’t recall ever working directly on a project with him during my more than 30 years at the Enterprise, but I watched he and Charlene “work the room” at many events for many years. Bud was perfection. I have no doubt that God has already given him a special assignment in Heaven. May you be comforted in knowing his legacy will continue for generations.


  • Paul Prince

    02 July 2020 at 18:50 | #

    Was a privilege to know Bud. A true gentleman in every way. Will be missed by all that know and cared for him.


  • Gene Feigelson

    02 July 2020 at 18:35 | #

    Bud and I became close when I was in student government at LAMAR in the early ‘60’s. He was the influence that led me to Naval Aviation. .We served for many years together on the LAMAR. Alumni Board. He always had a great story and a friendly hug.


  • Sina & Soheila Nejad

    02 July 2020 at 18:18 | #

    Dear Charlene & Will,
    We would like to express our sympathy & let you know that our love and thoughts are with you.



    02 July 2020 at 17:00 | #

    I am greatly saddened today to learn of your loss....Patsy and I were always so glad to call all the family our friends...I truly understand the void and loneliness that will be created by his absence, bjut know that Do walks with you each day, hand in hand...Regardless of age or condition of health, we are never ready to say bye to those we love....know that my heart and soul cries with you today as you walk this very saddened time of your lives....Prayes and blessings are sent your way....Bud will be greatly missed by many....what a great man all his life....With love to each of you....
    R. O. Williams, Jr. Austin, Texas


  • Janis Monger Mason

    02 July 2020 at 16:29 | #

    Bud Leonard left a lasting mark on friends and family, Lamar University, Calder Baptist Church, the larger Beaumont community, and on my life. Growing up in Beaumont and in Calder Church, the Leonards provided all of us with kindness, friendship, encouragement, and a lasting role model for living with integrity and generosity. I cherish the gracious notes from Bud at different milestones in my life and will be forever grateful for knowing him, Charlene, and his children. Heaven is brighter for his being in it.


  • Dorothy Jo and Ryan Landry

    02 July 2020 at 15:22 | #

    Uncle Buddy you were always a ray of sunshine! Many memories were had and don’t worry Mason will carry on the love of mincemeat pie at Thanksgiving! Love and prayers for Aunt Charlene and cousin Will and family.


  • Gary George

    02 July 2020 at 15:09 | #

    So sorry to hear about your dad. Prayers to you and family.


  • Cindy. Baxley Landry

    02 July 2020 at 10:40 | #

    Charlene and. Will,, I am so very sorry for your loss. Bud was dearly loved and respected by our family, especially dad. I heard many stories from their trips to Austin. Years after my rehearsal dinner, i found out that Bud wrote the poem that my dad read to me. He is now pain free and in the arms of our Savior!


  • Barbara & Ben Hansen

    02 July 2020 at 05:48 | #

    Charleen, Ben and I send prayers and sympathy to you after Bud’s death. We have so many wonderful memories of the time we spent with you both at numerous benefits for Lamar University and Beaumont Junior Forum. May God bless you with peace, knowing how loved both you and Bud are.


  • Dianne Fontenot

    02 July 2020 at 02:16 | #

    Dear Charlene and Family,
    I was so sad to hear of Bud’s passing. Lamar University and the city of Beaumont have lost an amazing supporter and friend. May your wonderful memories of Bud and the adventures you shared bring peace to your heart. RIP Bud Leonard. You were one of a kind and a true gentleman.
    Dionne and Billy Fontenot


  • Danny and Livonna Martin

    02 July 2020 at 00:43 | #

    Charlene and family,
    What great joyful memories Livonna and I have of being with Bud and you. Bud was a happy fellow; and therefore, everyone around him was made happy. . This is one of the reasons he made a great leader. We extend our heartfelt love and sympathy to you. May God’s sweet grace fill you with peace and solace.


  • Julia Ramsey Lewitt

    02 July 2020 at 00:13 | #

    I was blessed to grow up at Calder Baptist Church and know Bud Leonard. In my college years he shared many of his life lessons with me for my benefit. And in the later years was first to welcome me "home" when I visited. He will be greatly missed.


  • Clark and Ninette Teel

    01 July 2020 at 23:33 | #

    Keeping your gracious, kind family in our prayers. A great man, absent from us but forever in our memories.


  • Carolyn Modica

    01 July 2020 at 23:23 | #

    Charlene, I am so sorry to hear of Bud's passing. He was an amazing man. I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him when he submitted his biography for our veteran's book in DAR. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers! Take care and God Bless you!


  • Jimmie Jay Jackson

    01 July 2020 at 17:28 | #

    Charlene and Family, you are in my thoughts and prayers for the loss of your precious Bud.  God and your special memories will sustain you through the rough times.  He met everyone with a big smile and a friendly greeting.  Bud's passing  has left a void in our city because he was a leader in many facets .


  • Johnny & Sharon Passmore

    01 July 2020 at 17:17 | #

    Charlene, Joni & Will,
    We send our prayers and love to all!!! Such a wonderful man. Will dearly be missed by all!!! Fond memories of all the good times.
    Much love to all, Sharon & Johnny


  • Roma Newton and Ed Richey

    01 July 2020 at 16:30 | #

    What a great loss for Lamar University and our whole Southeast Texas community. Our prayers are with you Charlene and Will.


  • Angela and Ray Baker

    01 July 2020 at 16:19 | #

    Will: We send our sympathy to you and your family as you mourn the loss of your father. What a servant he was in our community and especially to LU. We know he was greeted in heaven with "well done good and faithful servant."


  • Lew C. Russell, Jr.

    01 July 2020 at 15:42 | #

    Many good memories. Always in our prayers.


  • Carol Burkhart

    01 July 2020 at 15:14 | #

    A kind friend. Always a smile and a hug when I saw him. I will miss his sweet smile. Prayers for all of his family.


  • Steve and Charlene Meek

    01 July 2020 at 14:24 | #

    Mrs. Leonard, Will, Annie and Claire - please know that we are keeping your family in our prayers. Fond memories of a true gentleman..


  • Elizabeth Strahan

    01 July 2020 at 14:14 | #

    Buddy, Paige will always want her hug from you just as she did at 4 yearrs old. She was tearful at 12 1/2 to learn you had had finally gone to receive your well deserved rewards to be with The Lord. Thank you for making everyone feel important and loved. This says nothing about all the years at Calder Baptist you influenced my life when I heard your testimony and watched your leadership in the church!


  • Joseph F Fertitta

    01 July 2020 at 13:07 | #

    Uncle Bud was truly the kind of person that when you were around him you really missed him when he was gone. that kind of person leaves their memory in your heart your entire life. thanks for the memory , uncle Bud. Sandy and I will truly miss you.


  • Eddie and Karen Collins

    01 July 2020 at 11:13 | #

    Bud(Mr. Leonard at the time) was my Sunday School teacher when I was a boy at Calder Baptist Church. We have a lot of fond memories of Bud, one of my favorite was that he would always laugh at my bad jokes at Deacon meetings.

    Condolences to the family, truly a life well lived. Rest assured that your precious Buddy is with the Lord. He will be missed.


  • Sherrie and Jeff Branick

    01 July 2020 at 03:58 | #

    What a tremendous loss for all of us - and Lamar University has lost one of its biggest cheerleaders! But what a gain for heaven.! Bud was gave me an opportunity if a lifetime when he hired me and was such a wonderful mentor. Jeff and I will so miss seeing him at all the Lamar functions And “racing” my Daddy’ - Jimmy Booker - with their walkers. So thankful for the life of this most honorable man!


  • Michele Allen

    01 July 2020 at 01:39 | #

    In my thoughts and prayers-
    He will be so missed-


  • Vick Nelson

    30 June 2020 at 23:18 | #

    Will I am sorry. Blessings and Peace, Vick


  • Don Jeffcoat

    30 June 2020 at 20:29 | #

    Will, deepest condolences to you, your mother and all the Leonard family for your loss. Your father was an impressive gentlemen. May he rest in peace. Sending prayers of comfort to you and your family.


  • Kathi Weathington Hughes

    30 June 2020 at 20:26 | #

    Mrs. Charlene and Will,
    I am overwhelmed with wonderful memories flooding my thoughts of Mr. Leonard.! It took years for me to start calling him Bud...he would get tickled by that. I am so thankful I had the privilege of knowing him as well as you two. He was always so encouraging from the time I met him at Lamar as he supported the music department, Neches River Festival and all these years promoting tourism (as he served on the Beaumont CVB board). I especially loved when he brought the Senior Series Golf Championship to Idyldwild. I can hear his voice right now.
    Please know I will be praying for all of you.
    Kathi Weathington Hughes


  • Linda,Matt, And Annalisa Colbert

    30 June 2020 at 18:57 | #

    You have a special place our hearts. We will miss you always! Please tell Bill I love him


  • Nancy and Bill Hale

    30 June 2020 at 18:41 | #

    Our hearts go out to the Leonard family in the loss of Bud. What a huge figure at Lamar as well as the community in general. Our prayers are with all of you.


  • Chuck and Ethel Prater

    30 June 2020 at 18:04 | #

    Mrs. Leonard and Will
    My our God grant you comfort and peace during this difficult time.
    We so enjoyed the times on Sunday after church we came to your table
    At Luby's to say hello.. Each of you always had a friendly smile.
    There are many wonderful memories of your husband and Dad that will
    Remain always in your heart.
    God Bless and keep you.
    Chuck and Ethel Prater


  • John H. Fears

    30 June 2020 at 14:18 | #

    Bud will br missed, but remembered forever in our hearts. God bless Chatlene and the family. May Hod wrap his arms firmly around the family during this time of heartache. Rest in comfort my friend.


  • Judy Kuhn Bell

    30 June 2020 at 13:46 | #

    i am so very sorry for your loss, He was always such a sweet sweet man. Prayers to the family always!


  • Susan Simmons

    30 June 2020 at 03:20 | #

    Oh my Buddy, we are going to miss you so very much! Our thoughts and prayers and tears are with your beloved family. Without your and Charlene’s support we would never have been able to achieve all the wonderful things that happened at Lamar. I know you know how much we loved you. Now you are not hurting any more and I know my dad is glad to see you’ ! Love and peace, Susan and Jimmy Simmons



    30 June 2020 at 02:25 | #

    I had the great honor of being a participant with Bud on many projects. He always made me feel so welcome. I always searched forBud & CHARLENE at the many LAMAR social functions. I have missed those greetings


  • Jack and Juliet Smith

    30 June 2020 at 00:04 | #

    We are very saddened by the loss of our dear friend. He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him. Our condolences to his wife, Charlene and to the rest of his family. Sincerely,


  • Megan Copeland

    29 June 2020 at 23:59 | #

    Dearest Charlene and Will,
    My heart just breaks learning of this passing .
    I have such happy memories of all the years my parents, Ward and Donya Beckcom, shared with you in many Lamar Alumni activities. Please know you are loved and cherished
    and very much in my heart and prayers. It was a sheer delight to sing next to you, dear Charlene, in Walter’s choir at Calder Baptist Church.
    Much love,
    Megan Beckcom Copeland


  • Dr. Richard and Beverly Harrel

    29 June 2020 at 23:45 | #

    Still so grateful for your help in transporting our two little girls to longfellow when we came to Lamar in 1966. We have shared many small visits through the years and your kindness will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.


  • Shelly Perkins

    29 June 2020 at 22:49 | #

    Mr. Leonard was such a wonderful man and a dear friend to my Dad, Butch Franklin. Much love and condolences to his family.


  • Pam Shelander

    29 June 2020 at 22:21 | #

    Mrs. Leonard and Will,

    Scott and I are both so very sorry to learn of your loss. I have fond memories of the Leonard family. Prayers for comfort and peace for you.


  • Laurie and Mark Ritchel

    29 June 2020 at 21:42 | #

    Bud will be sorely missed. He has impacted many lives for the better, not the least of which mine. Bud was a friend, a mentor, an example, a leader, a Christian man and a warm and loving human being. He always shared special comments to our daughter, Katie. She is so glad that she was able to visit him a few years ago on a visit back to Beaumont. Bud lived his life well and we know he is resting now with his Creator. Charlene, we pray that you are comforted by your memories of his beautiful life well-lived.


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