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Leonard, Jack Graham (1929–1995)

Jack Graham Leonard, who died as a result of a car accident last Thursday, had a distinguished career as a cleric, principally as chaplain to the RAAF for 25 years.

He was also a broadcaster and a pioneer of children's television in Canberra with his own ventriloquism show on Capital Television. In the early 1960s, Jack and his puppet, Cedric, became household names.

The Reverend Leonard was born in Bexley, Sydney, in 1929. He began theological studies for the Methodist ministry when he was 17. Typical of his zest for things new, he took a break from the ministry in the early 1950s to become a breakfast announcer' on station 2TM Tamworth.

His rich, resonant voice was every inch a personal hallmark, as was his huge love of life.

However, the young Leonard quickly discovered that the glamour of radio did not pay sufficiently to support the household so he sold radio advertising to supplement his income.

At one stage he made more in salary and commission from selling radio advertising than the station's general manager. He later sold oil for the defunct company, COR. His great claim to fame was that he managed to sell oil to a coal-mining company for heating. Such were his charm and persuasive powers.

Having dabbled in commerce, Jack Leonard returned to what he always lovingly described as his true calling to the ministry. He was ordained in the Methodist ministry in 1959. In 1977, he became an Anglican priest. In the early years of his parish ministry, he served at Tamworth, North Sydney and Queanbeyan. In 1965, his career, took yet another turn when he joined the RAAF. He served at Williamtown, Butterworth, Richmond, Pearce and Fairbairn. He was principal chaplain from 1984 to 1988. In 1979, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his work in the defence force.

He retired from the RAAF in 1988 and, in the beginning of 1990, he joined the church of St John the Baptist, Reid, as parish administrator. His stewardship was marked by his love for pastoral work, the rituals of the Church, an outrageous brand of humour and a sense of the ridiculous — all tempered by an unfailingly common touch.

The Reverend Leonard was married to Patricia for 31 years. They had three children — Karen, Andrew and Simon. She died in 1984. He remarried in 1985 and is survived by his widow, Noelle, his children and seven grandchildren.

He will be given a funeral with full military honours today. The service for him will begin at 2pm in the ANZAC Memorial Chapel of St Paul, RMC Duntroon. Afterwards he will be interred in St John's Cemetery, Reid.

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'Leonard, Jack Graham (1929–1995)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/leonard-jack-graham-27709/text35930, accessed 22 August 2019.

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