Cover photo for James Leonard's Obituary
James Leonard Profile Photo
1941 James 2023

James Leonard

April 13, 1941 — February 9, 2023

James Colton Leonard, a beloved husband, father, community leader, and engineer, passed away on February 19, 2023, at the age of 81. Jim was born on April 13, 1941, in Oakland, CA to Hobart and Betty Leonard. He grew up in Virginia City, NV in a loving home, where he developed a passion for science and engineering. Jim graduated from the University of Oregon in 1962 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation he began his 10 - year career at Ford Motor Company, during which time he also attended University of Michigan and earned a Masters in mechanical engineering and University of Detroit – Mercy where he earned an MBA.

In January of 1970, Jim married the love of his life, Sharron Ann Bonds. They had two children, Juli Ann and Scott Hobart. In 1974, Jim and his young family moved to Colorado. Jim worked at Coors for 18 years, initially as an engineer and then in marketing, leading the competitive analysis division.

Jim was interested in cutting edge technology and innovation. In 1977 he designed and engineered the families’ solar heated home in Evergreen where they lived for 47 years.

Jim was a devoted father who instilled a sense of independence, competitiveness and adventure in his children. He showed them how to be patient, persistent, generous and tough. He introduced them to skiing and cycling; passions that shaped their lives. He was a tireless supporter of their many competitions and adventures.

Sharron and Jim shared a love for travel, and they explored many parts of the United States and world together. They went on 14 Road Scholar adventures.

Jim had many interests and passions: cycling Colorado’s high mountain passes - he spent countless hours on his bike taking in the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains; skiing from first chair to last at Mary Jane and Copper Mountain; sampling and assessing the bounty of Colorado beers; and keeping tabs on the developments in the auto industry and endurance motorsports.  Jim always capped a fine Colorado day with good beer.

Jim was passionate about public education and for many years served on the Clear Creek County Schools accountability committee and as an advisor and mentor for the robotics program. Jim believed that every child deserved a chance at a good education, and he was committed to improving opportunities for students in his community.  He believed access to STEM education and technical skills was the bedrock of a strong U.S. economy and competitiveness in the global marketplace, and he worked tirelessly to make that a reality in Colorado.

Jim had a passion for fitness and training: he rode the Triple Bypass 16 times, Mt Evans and Pikes Peak running ascents a dozen times apiece and numerous Ride the Rockies tours. For over 30 years, Jim started his day at 5:00 am at Nick's Pro Fitness center in Evergreen, where he was a regular and well-respected member. He enjoyed his morning routine and appreciated the friendships he made there.

Jim was a long-time member of Church of the Hills in Evergreen, where he served as a deacon and usher for many years. He also organized the Buffalo Park Road cleanup, coordinated blood drives, participated in upgrading the manse and served on the church’s personnel committee.

Jim will be deeply missed by his wife, Sharron; his children, Juli Ann and her partner Eric Neitzke, Scott Hobart and his wife Heather Fitzgerald, his sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Rick Odynski, niece Lisa Odynski, nephew Mike Odynski, and all those who knew and loved him.

Jim was a determined and strong-willed individual who lived his life with purpose and passion. His legacy will live on in the lives he touched and the memories he created.

Rest in peace, Jim.

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