top banner

Obituary Listings

Barbara M. Leonard

June 12, 1924 January 24, 2013
Barbara M. Leonard
There are condolences waiting approval on Barbara's Tribute wall
Obituary for Barbara M. Leonard
Barbara M. Leonard, former RI Secretary of State, prominent business woman, philanthropist, civic leader, wife and mother, died peacefully Thursday, January 24.  She was 88.  A resident of Providence and Jamestown, RI, she was the wife of the late Elwood E. Leonard, Jr.  Born in Newport, RI, Barbara was the daughter of the late Anthony and Anna (Dever) Martin.  She attended Rogers High School and received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1946 and an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University in 1981. 
With her husband Woody, Barbara raised six children.  Upon his sudden death in 1977, she took on a new role, stepping in as CEO of his company, H&H Screw Products Manufacturing Co. in Lincoln, RI.  In 1984, Barbara began her political career by running for United States Senate.   Although her Senate bid was unsuccessful, she went on to become the highest woman appointee in the Reagan administration when she was appointed by President Reagan as New England Regional Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration.   She later served under President George H.W. Bush as Director of Development for all non-military federal employee child care centers throughout the country.
Mrs. Leonard was elected Secretary of State of Rhode Island in 1992.  She also served the state through appointments to numerous state boards and commissions including the RI Port Authority, Economic Development Corporation, Job Training Council, Vocational Education Advisory Board, Advisory Committee on Refugee Resettlement, Veteran’s Memorial Commission, and the Board of Commissioners for RI public TV.  She was a RI Commodore and a founding member of the Brown University Medical School, the Newport Music Festival, and the Committee of 200 American Women Business Leaders.  She held directorships at Woonsocket Institution for Savings, the RI Public Expenditures Council, the Business & Industry Council, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration National Advisory Council.  She was active in educational, cultural, and philanthropic organizations, serving as a trustee of Brown University, Bryant University, and Lincoln School.  She was also a member of the Providence College President’s Council and the URI Business and Oceanography advisory boards, and vice president of the RI College Foundation.  She was president of the RI Philharmonic Orchestra, chaired the Campaign for the American Baptist Churches of RI Conference Center, and was a director of many organizations including the United Way of Southeastern New England, the John Hope Settlement House, the National Oceanic Society, and the National Conference of Christians & Jews.
Among many honors, Mrs. Leonard received the National Humanitarian Award and the RI Woman Business Advocate of the Year Award, as well as being named the 1984 Rhode Islander of the Year. 
Whether it was politics or business, education or sailing ships, archeology or her Jamestown garden, Barbara rolled up her sleeves and dug right in.  She was an intrepid world traveler, an enthusiastic music lover and pianist, an award-winning bridge player, a dedicated teacher, and a faithful member of Community Church of Providence.  She was generous, thoughtful, and energetic in her community pursuits – a true citizen of her state, her country, and the world.  Most of all, she was a loving and much-loved wife, mother, and grandmother.  She will be greatly missed.
Barbara is survived by her children,  William A. Leonard of Jamestown, RI, Barbara L. Bennett (Paul V. Curcio) of Providence, RI, Cynthia Leonard (G. Paul Damon) of Jamestown, RI, and Elwood E. Leonard III (Julie) of Little Rock AR; a stepdaughter, Karin L. Leonard of Dublin, NH; five grandchildren:  Anna L. Bennett, Christopher A. Curcio, Mackenzie E. Damon, Elwood E. Leonard IV, and Elizabeth M. Leonard; and a brother, Norman A. Martin (Phyllis) of Green Valley, AZ .  She was also the mother of the late Anthony L. Leonard.
A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, January 29 at 11am at Community Church of Providence, 372 Wayland Ave., Providence, followed by a brief graveside service at Swan Point Cemetery.  Calling hours Monday, 4-7pm at Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home, 230 Waterman St., Providence.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lincoln School, 301 Butler Ave., Providence, RI 02906, to benefit the Leonard Library.  

Visiting Hours in the Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home 230 Waterman St., Providence on Monday from 4-7pm. Funeral Servicve Tuesday at 11am in the Community Church of Providence, Wayland ave.  Burial in swan Point Cemetery
Read More

To send flowers or plant a tree in memory of Barbara M. Leonard, visit the Tribute Store.


Create new album
Subscribe To Obituaries


We appreciate your support
In accordance with the wishes of the family, this
message has been declined.
Barbara M. Leonard

Thank you for sharing your
memory of Barbara

Provide comfort for the family by sending flowers or planting a tree in memory of Barbara M. Leonard.

Send Flowers
No thanks, please don't show me this again.