DAVY Leonard was a dedicated family man and the best friend anybody could wish for.
The Lurgan man died suddenly at the age of 59 on Thursday, April 19.
David Charles Leonard was born on August 13, 1952 and was the middle of five children of Stanley and Anna Leonard.
Davy grew up on the Gilford Road and attended Carrick, King’s Park and Lurgan College.
Never the most enthusiastic student, he left Lurgan College in sixth form to join the Ulster Bank, training in Finaghy, and being posted to Ballycastle and Cookstown. He decided that the bank wasn’t for him and went on to do various jobs including a spell running what had been his grandfather’s newsagents and tobacconists on the Crumlin Road in Belfast in the early 70s.
In 1976 Davy made the decision to follow in his father’s footsteps and applied to join the RUC along with his school friend Roy. On completion of his training he was awarded the Baton of Honour for Best Recruit - a very proud day for his mother and father. It was a sign of things to come as Davy went about his work with pride and dedication while serving mainly in South Armagh.
On December 19, 1979 Davy married Eileen Woods, who he’d first met at Lurgan College.
Eileen said: “He was totally dedicated to his work. You can imagine how tough it was right in the middle of The Troubles. His work was challenging and he made up for lost family time when he retired.”
Davy served with the RUC for 26 years and upon retirement in 2002 worked for a time in the Castle Park Inn to help his good friend, Ralph Hewitt. He devoted his life to his family especially his children and grandchildren. He looked after his late Father and his Mother, who will be 90 this year.
Some words used by Davy’s family to describe him were: helpful, thoughtful, trustworthy to the nth degree, generous, a faithful friend, devoted, loyal, stubborn, but soft as putty when it came to family. He loved being with people, enjoyed chatting to everyone, and was the life and soul of the party. Davy spent his time looking after everyone around him and doing his best to make sure that the people he cared about had everything they needed and were happy. Whenever he decided to be your friend, you had a friend for life. Many people have commented that after talking to him for about five minutes you felt you’d known him all your life.
Davy was at his happiest surrounded by friends and family – the yearly Woods family barbecue at Sandhill Park always seemed to fall on a rain-soaked evening and ended up with everyone sheltering in a smoke filled garage - ever the brilliant host, Davy turned a damp evening into a fun filled party.
Davy loved travelling and looked forward to his and Eileen’s regular holidays.
Davy’s sister Anne said: “The girls always joked that you couldn’t go anywhere without their dad knowing someone – on the beach in Florida, on holiday in France, in tube stations in London, the pilot at Julian’s 40th birthday flying lesson – the list goes on...”.
Davy and Eileen’s regular walks around the park took much longer than they should have because of all the friends and acquaintances they stopped with along the way.
Davy had been a member of the Cedars Walking Group based at the Jethro Centre since September and in that short time had made many new friends. He loved walking and was always at the front of the most challenging walks. He was a popular member of the group and had recently taken the test to be able to help out with the group transport.
Davy was a fan of football, rugby and cricket. He was a lifelong Glenavon supporter and as a mark of respect players wore black armbands and observed a one minute silence before the last match of the season at Mourneview Park. Davy was on the committee of the Triangle Supporters Club and a member of Glenavon’s Development Committee.
Anne said: “From Glenavon’s point of view they have lost a faithful loyal supporter – no fair weather friend was David. He worked so hard wherever and whenever he was needed in a voluntary capacity and I will proudly say that he will be irreplaceable.”
Davy had been going to Glenavon for many years and when Julian and Kate were old enough he bought them season tickets for the Lurgan Blues. Julian’s son Alex now goes to the games and plays for Glenavon Under 11s. The last Glenavon game that Davy attended was on Saturday, April 14, a 4-0 home win against Donegal Celtic.
Davy was also an avid Manchester United supporter. It showed his character when he put aside the Manchester United/Liverpool rivalry to sit at Anfield every year with Julian.
The family were looking forward to celebrating Davy’s 60th birthday together this summer by going to the Oval to watch England’s five-day test against South Africa – a lifelong ambition of his.
To his family, he was the most loving husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, son, brother, brother-in-law and uncle anyone could wish for and was loved so much. He will be dearly missed by his wife Eileen, children Julian, Emma and Kate, grandchildren Amy and Alex, mother Anna and the entire family circle.