The bereaved family of Professor John Leonard is grateful for the honor done their son by the AUN Community, which hosted an inspirational memorial service on November 1, 2019.
Professor Leonard's only brother, Joe, sent a brief note to President Dekle, thanking her for organizing the memorial service, and for her eulogy, which he described as "eloquent, inspiring, and it came from the heart."
"I appreciate both the time and thought you put into your speech, and the memorial. John did, as you so eloquently captured, find his purpose place at AUN. We have shared the speech with our family. Please convey to all who helped put the memorial together our gratitude and our thanks."
Alumni, including those taught and mentored by the late professor, have also sent in their tributes. Some of them recalled the treasured experience they shared with Professor Leonard. They paid glowing tributes to his love of his students and readiness to go the extra mile to ensure they excel in their academic work.
Class of 2015 Valedictorian, Ms. Hephzber Ifunanya Obiorah, described Professor Leonard as a soft-spoken man and a caring instructor.
"He always stopped on the walkway to offer words of kindness when a student looked sad or burdened. He always kept the door of his office open to students; he never turned them away. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace."
Class of 2016 Speaker, Ms. Maryam Lawan, wrote:
"Prof Leonard was a kind-hearted man with a selfless soul, who never relented in filling in gaps when I was in darkness. Even when it was inconvenient, he found time whenever I visited him with problems to solve, and he helped me find meaning to Economics that initially seemed complex. As he watches from where he is, a seed from his fruit is sprouting out with the unquantifiable knowledge that he had shared. May his gentle soul rest in peace."
Class of 2017 Speaker, Ms. Murna Mamman, said she is comforted by Professor Leonard's legacy.
"You strove relentlessly with your calm nature to guide us toward a special understanding of how much life could be contained in written words. Your life spoke so much volume of positive words and you worked very hard at teaching us and showing us how to make sure that our own written words were filled full of that life.
"You were an inspiration to me and many more with the care and comfort you brought your way. You always put your students' needs before your own and there were many friendships you treasured and the interactions you so enjoyed with your students.
“Thank you, Prof, for always being available and teaching us the real morals of life outside the classroom. Your name is carved in our hearts, not on tombstones.
We love you and will miss you dearly. May you rest in peace."
Class of 2014 International & Comparative Politics (ICP) major, Ms. Edo Ivara, described Professor Leonard as a humble and quiet teacher, who took his time to study her learning pattern and taught her a lot, not only about economics but about life and our mission on earth – to affect the lives of people positively.
"My first encounter with John was my first day in one of his Economics classes. I was late for class. When I got in, I sat in the front row and was trying to explain to my mate why I was late. The Prof got up and gently walked out. We all thought he had forgotten something in his office, only for him to walk back in with a bottle of water and some Aspirin. I was amazed at this action; it was the biggest act of kindness I would receive from someone I barely knew. I’m not forgetting the emails he sent to me asking to re-do assignments I didn't do so well in. I can only be grateful that our paths crossed.
"Rest well with the angels, Professor. You lived a sacrificing life. I believe God needed your kind heart in heaven; that's why he called you home."
Former President of the Leadership & Ethics Council and one of the shining lights of the Class of 2014, Ebuka Ukoh, also sent his condolences, describing Professor Leonard as a blessing to AUN students and the community in general.
"Though I was only his student briefly, I was affected by him, not just by his academic prowess, but also by his humanity."