Leonard A. Nord, age 84, of Olympia, WA, formerly of Howard Lake, died Wednesday, April 21, 2010.
He was born Dec. 30, 1925, in Howard Lake, the son of Alfred and Catherine Nord. As their only son, and the baby of the family, the precocious “Sonny” was adored by his parents and three big sisters, Irene, Doris, and Alice.
Growing up, his crooked smile and irrepressible sense of humor frequently landed him in hot water. He was fond of remembering how an exasperated Howard Lake High School administrator rebuked his tendencies as class clown, chiding, “Leonard, there isn’t a teacher in this school who wouldn’t pay $5 to have you removed from his class.”
High school officials breathed a sigh of relief when Leonard, armed with good looks, intelligence, and a sunny nature, graduated from Howard Lake High School in 1943, to attend the Minnesota Bible College. He lasted one year, and then, to his father’s dismay, was off to join the army, where the 18-year-old boy grew into a man on the German battlefields of World War II.
It was a focused, ambitious, hard-working man who returned at war’s end, ready to attack his education at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated four years later, magna cum laude, with a degree in public administration.
Leonard pledged his heart and his life to his beloved childhood family friend, Ruth Cachiaras. They were blessed with four children, and their marriage lasted 49 years, until Ruth’s death in 1999.
In 1954, with a wife and baby in tow, Leonard moved his young family to pursue a remarkable 30-plus year career in civil service in Washington state. Leonard loved people; caring passionately that all people, regardless of their status in society, their earning power, race, or gender, be treated fairly, with compassion and sensitivity.
A gifted man, he was appointed director of the department of personnel by the Washington state governor’s office, and served at the helm of this department with unswerving integrity, devotion, and wisdom through four governors, until he retired in 1989.
Leonard did not slow down. He teased, smiled, and laughed his way through life, and made friends with everybody he met. He also gladly gave his time and talents to his church and his community, serving in many capacities.
God gave Leonard the gift of Suzanne Conte in marriage in 2000. Theirs was a true partnership, built on mutual respect and delight in each other.
To his children and grandchildren, Leonard was a giant of a man: respected for his wisdom, kindness, and unshakeable commitment to his family. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; daughters Deborah (David) and Rebekah (Matt); sons Timothy (Peggy) and Andrew (Sharon); stepsons Chris, Jon, and Ken; stepdaughter Candace; 10 grandchildren; eight step-grandchildren; and one sister.
A celebration of his life took place Saturday, May 1 at St. Michael Parish in Olympia, WA.