October 12, 2012
Barbara Leonard, an icon in the credit union movement and the Portland business and outreach communities, passed away last week. She was 65 years old.
Leonard served on the Unitus Community Credit Union board of directors for more than 20 years, including a term as board chair.
She enjoyed a successful career for more than 30 years with US West Communications but put equal passion and energy into her community outreach. Recently, Leonard served as president of the Portland Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, an international women’s civic organization for which she raised more than $500,000 for educational scholarships.
“Barbara was truly one of a kind. She was passionate about life and poured her heart and soul into each and every opportunity she pursued,” said Unitus President and CEO Patricia Smith. “Everyone who had the privilege of knowing and serving with her can testify to her dedication, her enthusiasm and her generous spirit. She was simply one of Portland’s best, and she will be deeply missed.”
Leonard was honored as one of the Portland Soroptomist Club’s Women of the Year recently. She received the March of Dimes’ White Rose Award for professional and charitable service, the Unsung Hero Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislators and the Women of Excellence Award from Delta Sigma Theta.
As highly regarded as Leonard was for community service, she was equally admired in the credit union movement. In 2011, the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) inducted her into the Honor Roll and Hall of Fame.
With all of her professional and community commitments, Smith said that Leonard’s service as a volunteer was remarkable, effective, and a reason Unitus is one of the region’s top credit unions.
“Barbara loved what Unitus stands for—its members, employees and the values that make credit unions so special,” Smith said. “As board chair, she exuded a rare combination of visionary leadership and personal warmth. Though we are sad at her passing, we are so thankful for her life and all that she means to so many people.”
Leonard is survived by her husband, Ben, a son, a daughter, two stepdaughters, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
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