Fred Leonhardt, former Chair of the Section of State & Local Government Law, died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Orlando, Florida, on October 9, 2015. He was a leader in his state and community, an outgoing ambassador for our Section, and a great friend who kept in touch with his colleagues over the years. Fondly remembered by members of the Section as one of the Tijuana Three Amigos and known for his compassion, constant encouragement, and motivation of younger lawyers to stay active in their work in the field of state and local government law, Fred was a mentor to scores of lawyers who followed in his footsteps, always making sure to give credit to others whenever possible. Fred was a shareholder of Gray Robinson and focused his practice on government relations. Throughout his practice, Fred helped businesses navigate Florida’s laws and regulations, and lobbied local and state government officials.
Few individuals have devoted more time to civic affairs or held more volunteer community and state leadership positions than Fred, and one always felt embraced by Fred’s warm welcome. Fred brought a smile and a generous spirit to everything he did, was charmingly positive about his role in peoples’ lives, and as a shareholder of the Gray Robinson firm, he often took younger lawyers under his wing and helped them when they encountered problems and showered them with compliments when they did. Fred amassed an admirable record working on behalf of state and local government clients, with extensive experience in state and local government law matters including permitting and procurement.
Fred was a member of the board of directors of Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, for 12 years, and served as senior vice president and general counsel of Florida Water Services, previously the state’s largest private water and wastewater utility. From 2003 to 2004 he served as president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and also served as chair of Floridians for Better Transportation, the Orlando area Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, and served on the board of directors of the James Madison Institute, a privately funded public policy think tank in Tallahassee, Florida.
Dean Cannon, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and member of the Section, summed it up this way: “He loved his family, he loved his community, he loved politics and he loved life.”
Fred Leonhardt is survived by his wife, Vicki Cook Leonhardt, to whom he was married for 40 years; a daughter, Ashley; a son, Whitaker; and one granddaughter.
Fred was an inspiration for many of us and will be sorely missed.