A VERSATILE sportsman and former detective inspector with the NSW Police, Geoffrey Louis Leonard lost his battle with throat cancer earlier this year. He was 63.
Born at Johns River in 1953, Geoff was the sixth child of Basil and Cecelia Leonard who were farmers at Isaacs Lane.
His early years were spent in the area and he attended Johns River Primary School. The family moved into Johns River when Basil died in 1963 and relocated to Taree the following year.
Sport played a major part in Geoff’s life. Tennis was a family passion and in this Geoff excelled. In 1984 Geoff teamed with his brother, Peter to win their division at the Country Week tennis championships at White City.
He rugby league, initially with Chatham Cundle and later with Taree United along with Chatham High School’s First XIII as a utility back while he was also an accomplished cricketer.
Music was another outlet. Geoff played the trumpet in the Taree Town Band. He also had played the The Last Post at Anzac Day services in Taree, a role he considered to be a great honour and one he took great pride.
His first job was at the Golden Fleece Service Station Taree before moving to Newcastle where he took up house painting with his brother, Robert.
He joined the NSW Police Force and was appointed a probationary constable on July 2 1973. He was promoted to constable first class on July 2, sergeant third class on June 30 1988.
He held the position of detective inspector until he retired through ill-health in 2011. He was in the force for 38 years and was stationed at Gosford (30 Division), at Newcastle with the Major Crimes Squad (Homicide North ) and the Property Crime Squad.
He was awarded the National Medal in 1989 and the 1st Clasp to National Medal in 2000.
It was while working in Gosford that Geoff met his future wife, Ave. They two children, Katrina and Geoffrey Jnr.
After Geoff retired he moved to Forster with Ave. Golf took much of his spare time and he served as secretary of the Forster Golf Club while he was also invited to be a marshal at the NSW Open in Sydney.
Geoff was secretary for four years of the Coopernook and Lansdowne Forest History Group, an organisation that oversaw the restoration of his grandparents' old Forest Headquarters House at Coopernook.
Geoff beat throat cancer 14 years ago, but he was diagnosed with the disease again in 2016.
Geoff is survived by Ave and children Katrina and Geoff Jnr, daughter-in-law Mel, granddaughter Vienna and siblings Robert, Peter, Daniel and John.
He was predeceased by his mother and father and sisters Kathleen and Barbara.
“Geoffrey was a beautiful brother with a gentle temperament which endeared him to many. He made friends everywhere and will be sadly missed,’’ a brother, Danial said in tribute.