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Lee Cearnal
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October 19, 2014
And now I find him. Spoke with him many years ago, after Sidney's death. I am Dean'Mo' Mottard, roommate at Pensacola, buddy in Vietnam (altho @ Quang Tri,not Marble), we went on R&R together in Bankok in '69. And now I 'find' him. We spent many times and adventures together and I would be proud to share everything with any loved ones who would care to listen.
February 18, 2013
I knew Lee as a journalist first. He was precise and demanding as an editor, but also fair and careful, a mentor to younger less-experienced journalists. He was also a good friend, an interesting person. He liked to argue politics, but even if you didn't agree with him, he wasn't obnoxious. He didn't choose his friends because of their politics. He loved books and music and had a great collection of both. He like good food. He talked often of his Gretchen, proud of her accomplishment and beauty, but mostly proud of the caring, sweet person she had become. His granddaughters were obviously an extension of this love.
February 17, 2013
In the 25 years I've known and worked with Lee, I've never met anyone as kind and generous. He was an outstanding newsman and wonderful human being.
I remember the day he won the Pulitzer and people dancing on their desks at the Clarion-Ledger. He was city editor and I worked under him as assistant city editor. He was a natural leader and brought clarity to the city desk. He stuck to his principles and wasn't afraid to take on the likes of Heraldo Rivera, wagging a finger in his face and telling him to get the story straight. Later he was chosen for a Bagehot fellowship at Columbia University. He returned a staunch supporter of Milton Friedman. From then on he fondly called me his "socialist." He also knew how to have a good time. I remember the trips to the blues festival in Greenville, the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
He seemed happiest to me after Gretchen was married and gave him his granddaughters.
To say he will be missed is an understatement.
February 15, 2013
I worked with Lee at the Houston Chronicle. He was a genuinely nice guy, a fine newsman. It was a pleasure to work with him.
February 15, 2013
Lee was so nice to me when I was a young fool out of college starting my first job, He was joyful and fun, and though I had not seen him in years, I am so sad to hear he is gone.
February 14, 2013
He will always be remembered as a talented journalist with high standards. I will never forget the Sunday night I was working a rare weekend shift with him and we got word that the vice president had shot someone in Texas in that crazy hunting accident. Despite the late notice,we worked to pull together a good story. He will be greatly missed! Cindy Horswell
February 01, 2013
Lee ("Sonny" to me)was my brother and my idol. Whatever he did, I wanted to or tried to do: He was a lifeguard, I was a lifeguard; he was a reporter, he convinced me I could be a reporter. I always wished I could have been as good a journalist as he. All these memories from his friends describe him perfectly -- someone who loved to have fun but who also had a serious side. I was so proud of his service in Vietnam (even though he never talked about it) and especially his winning the Pulitzer. Tell me that wasn't a hard act to follow. And he did love his girls -- Gretchen, Ellie and Grace -- and welcoming to Gretchen's husband Mario. We didn't see each other much, since we lived so far apart. I'm going to try to think that he is just over in Houston busy with his family and not no longer here.
January 28, 2013
This was not an ordinary man. Other than my father no other man meant as much. I knew him the day he was born. From then on we shared cousinship. I was a year older than he but never as clever, courageous, generous or kind. We were playmates who spent many Christmases, Thanksgivings, summer beach trips together. In tree tops, branch streams, old sheds, sea walls, boardwalk, marshes, zoos, swimming, skating, theater matinees, exploring and pretending.

Thru Jr. Hi, high school, driving, drive-in movies, his friends, my friends, Fla.
St. graduation, Un. Fla., then letters from Vietnam. After that just
A few Thanksgivings, river trips, a P.C. beach trip, Lee's funeral, and then my Dads funeral ten years ago. Since then we spent time on e-mail and every year or two he came here for 4 to 5 days on trips to and from Fla. He came not just to visit but to do repairs for us. To help. Time before last he and my daughter, namesake Sunny Lee, built a new foundation for the shed. Always time for the library though, in search of books.

He was my cousin, my brother, my best friend, my hero, my Peter Pan, my Spiderman from beginning to the end……and beyond.
January 28, 2013
My friendship with Lee spanned 40 years, beginning in the "hot type" early 1970s when we were cutting our teeth working a few feet away from each other in a Deep South newsroom. Lee Cearnal defined "one of a kind." If ever there was an affable, horrifically serious, no-frills, straight-shooting bulldog of a sheepdog, it was Lee Cearnal. His laugh was as contagious as a head cold. His work ethic was inviolate. His attention to detail was that of an American eagle. When called for, he could pull out his steel stare in a nanno-second and hit you right between the eyes with his eyes, every time, and reduce you to humble paper pulp. He didn't own a white towel to throw, ever, in any situation -- but he could put up a red flag in a heartbeat. You've got to think that if there is a sit-down coffee shop in the after-life, Lee is there every morning, probably sitting next to and chatting with the likes of Marion R. Morrison, whom most of us knew as John Wayne. Lee, we hardly knew ya.
January 26, 2013
I first met LeRoy at Terry Parker high school in Jacksonville in 1962. He was truly a good friend and I had the honor of attending the senior prom with him. He had many friends and a wonderful family. Although we did not stay in contact he will always be remembered as a part of my life. God bless you LeRoy.
January 24, 2013
January 22, 2013
His smile and laugh could be recognized in an instant. He was one of the liveliest Cearnal's and will be remembered always. We are lucky to have had his spirit in our lives because it will be with us forever.
January 22, 2013
Rest in peace dear Lee...what a prince.....my privilege to have known you.
January 21, 2013
I was saddened to read about Lee's passing on Facebook. I worked with Lee at The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., and then recommended that he apply for a job at the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Miss. We all know how that worked out (with a Pulitzer Prize for those who don't know.) Later in my career I was intrigued enough by a reporter application from a Deborah Cearnal that I called her.Yes, she had a brother named Lee and yes I hired her for the job. Lee visited once and we got to catch up. Regrettably I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Lee. Rest in peace, Lee.
January 20, 2013
I met Leroy (it was mostly his family that called him Sonny) in 1963 as a fellow pledge of SAE fraternity at FSU. He was quick to laugh and had a quirky sense of humor. I spent a summer working in Jacksonville between soph & Jr years and I don't think we missed a weekend going to the beach and partying hard. It was there I met and later married his cousin. Our daughter, Sunny Lee, was named for him. It is to my lasting regret that I did not stay in close contact with him through the years, only a few phone calls, one shortly after the death of his son. He did stay close with my daughter and I followed his life and career through her. I will always cherish the many fond memories I have. Goodbye Leroy, I hope to renew our friendship later.
January 20, 2013
I met Leroy (it was mostly his family that called him Sonny) in 1963 as a fellow pledge of SAE fraternity at FSU. He was quick to laugh and had a quirky sense of humor. I spent a summer working in Jacksonville between soph & Jr years and I don't think we missed a weekend going to the beach and partying hard. It was there I met and later married his cousin. Our daughter, Sunny Lee, was named for him. It is to my lasting regret that I did not stay in close contact with him through the years, only a few phone calls, one shortly after the death of his son. He did stay close with my daughter and I followed his life and career through her. I will always cherish the many fond memories I have. Goodbye Leroy, I hope to renew our friendship later.
January 19, 2013
You have many reasons to be proud of Lee and I know you will miss him greatly. Lee was my first city editor at The Ledger when I arrived here in February 1980. He taught me so much, particularly about the importance of adding people to news articles. He would invite reporters to gather at his apartment some Saturdays to talk about work, how we could make the paper better and what was going on in our lives. He was stimulating to work with and fun to socialize with.
January 19, 2013
January 19, 2013
What a wonderful cousin! His sense of humor, intellect, and passion for history and politics were the source of many late-night "discussions" at our many family reunions. He made the Cearnal family proud, and we will all miss him dearly. We send our love to the Botha family.
January 19, 2013
Lee,
Early in 1967 when we shared the challenges and laughs of the Naval Aviation Training, I knew I'd met a most remarkable Marine. A truer more loyal friend one could never find. You could be counted on to speak and present the truth - always, even when it might prove uncomfortable. I have been honored to have you as a dear friend for all these years. Your well reasoned positions, wisdom and thoughts are personal treasures I shall always know. Always, you displayed the two most critical elements of Marine Corps leadership ....accomplish the mission.....take care of your troops while doing so, no one did it better! Rest in peace my friend.
Semper Fi

Tom Nemetz
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