LEONARD, NONA BYERLY (1908 ~ 1995). At the age of 86, Nona Leonard, widow of former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Homer Leonard, passed away on Tuesday, January 24, 1995.
Born on October 4, 1908, in Valley Center, Kansas, to Adam Byerly and Mary Jane Marshall, Mrs. Leoonard, as a small girl, moved with her family to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where she received her education. In those days of sparse Valley population, her childhood recollections included her fear at hearing the firehouse bell rung to warn of mounted bandit raiders sweeping across the Mexican border.
Nona and Homer Leonard were married on May 19, 1935, and resided in McAllen. Mr. Leonard represented Hidalgo County in the Texas Legislature for 16 years and was Speaker in 1941 and 1942. Mrs. Leonard was a Past President of the Texas legislative Wives Club. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard resettled in Austin in 1947 at the conclusion of his legislative service. They were members of the Church of the Good Shepherd and associated with numerous Austin social clubs.
A favorite pasttime for Mrs. Leonard was playing gin rummy with a close circle of friends.
Mrs. Leonard is survived by her daughter Barbara and her husband Alden B. Smith; her grandsons: Leonard Smith and his wife Janis and their children Winston and Claire; Mark Smith and his wife Daneen; and Lamar Smith.
She is also survived by her daughter Marcia, a retarded resident of the Austin State School. Active in causes to benefit retarded citizens, Mrs. Leonard was for many years Secretary of the Volunteer Council at the Austin State School, was active in fundraising for the Chapel and the lighted sports field on the campus, and was awarded a 2,500-hour award for volunteer work at the School.
Mrs. Lenoard, along with her husband, was the recipient in 1963 of the first state-wide award presented by the Texas Association for Retarded Children to the person doing the most to benefit retarded children. In 1971, they became the first couple to receive the Annual Commissioner's State Award from the Texas Department of Mental Helath and Mental Retardation. During the middle 1970's and early 1980's, Mrs. Leonard often accompanied her grandsons to tennis tounaments across Texas.
Affectionately known to junior players as "Munner", she could always be counted upon for a cold drink or quick snack from her fully stocked ice chest and was widely known as Texas' "Tennis Grandmom". Mrs. Leonard's family gratefully acknowledges the friendship and assistance of Beatrice Anderson, Mrs. Leonard's dear friend and administrative assitant of 27 years.
The family also thanks Dr. Grover Bynum and Dr. Walter Riefslager for their care over many, many years and the staff of Westminster Health Care Center during the last years of her life.
Courtesy of the Leonard family.