Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas heroism resonates 50 years later

George Leonard was a cop for 22 years in New Jersey.
You name it he did it. Did it proudly, too.
Starting youth programs.
Working undercover narcotics.
Assisting needy families.
"I always wanted to help other people," said the 71-year-old Union City, N.J., native and Bradenton retiree. "Be there for kids like I was raised. Help them get through life."
Or help save a precious life.
Leonard did that almost 50 years ago.
How appropriate for Christmas.
"I was at the right place at the right time," he said, sifting through old newspaper accounts, brown with age, of what happened Dec. 23, 1962.
"People use the word hero a lot," said Joan Gates, a Tampa executive and the elder of Leonard’s two daughters. "But he is what a hero should be."

Read more Sunday in Mannix About Manatee on

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