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John Allen Leonard

December 2023

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In Memoriam is a complimentary service of the CBA honoring the lives and work of recently deceased members. Please email submissions to Susie Klein at High-resolution photos are appreciated.

John Allen Leonard

February 4, 1960—September 28, 2023

LeonardJohn Allen Leonard passed away unexpectedly on September 28, 2023, at the age of 63.

John was born on February 4, 1960, in the heartland of Lincoln, Nebraska, to Joan F. Leonard and Donald E. Leonard. John’s story is one of love, laughter, and a taste for the finer flavors of life. John was a loving husband to his childhood sweetheart, Gaye (Peterson), and together they shared a remarkable 41-year marriage. Their three sons, Bryce, Jim, and Will, were the true treasures of his life. A talented corporate attorney, John was beloved at the firm of Fairfield and Woods, where he shared his legal expertise for the past 23 years.

A true Renaissance man, John was an Eagle Scout and a scholar—with degrees in finance and law from the University of Nebraska, and a master’s degree in international business from the American Graduate School of International Business in Glendale, Arizona. While attending school in Arizona, he worked in the garden of his mentor and friend, Professor Duarte.

John’s journey in the legal world began in Fresno, California, but his path eventually led him to Denver, where he joined Fairfield and Woods in 2000. John was passionate about working with startups in the technology and biosciences spaces. He served as the board chair of Innosphere, a science and technology incubator helping Colorado-based companies launch and grow.

John was a man of the great outdoors, with a passion for the wide-open spaces of the Southwest. When he wasn’t busy practicing law, you could find him traversing rugged landscapes, capturing the world through his camera lens. He had a knack for turning a simple road trip into an unforgettable culinary adventure, sampling every delicious morsel along the way, often accompanied by his three sons and two brothers, Bill and Jim Leonard.

John’s love for teaching was as deep as his love for family. He led his sons’ cub scout troop with dedication and patience, imparting wisdom and instilling values. He passed on his skills to his sons, teaching them to ski, fish, and master the art of grilling a tri-tip to perfection. His willingness to teach extended to his professional relationships, and as Gil Selinger of Fairfield and Woods reflects: “His mentorship of me for the last 13 years made me the lawyer I am today. I don’t know how I’ll practice without his sage advice, sarcastic quip, or reminder that some things just don’t matter.”

John’s road may have reached its end, but his spirit will forever wander the open spaces he loved so dearly, and his memory will live on in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him. A line from “Don’t Fence Me In,” from one of John’s favorite albums, One for the Road, by Willie Nelson and Leon Russell, encompasses John’s true sense of adventure and appreciation of the American West:

 I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
I can’t look at hovels and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in.

Preceded in death by his parents, John leaves behind his wife Gaye; sons Bryce (Lindsey), Jim (Betsy), and Will; and brothers Bill (Chris) and Jim (Amy). He also leaves behind five grandchildren (Charlie, Olivia, Theodore, Remi, Henry); nieces Katie, Laura (Danny), and Grace; nephews John and McRae; father-in-law Jim Peterson; brothers-in-law Ron and Craig (Mavic); and a host of lifelong friends.

In keeping with his love for nature, the family kindly requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Denver Botanic Gardens,