John Michael Leonard, 40, passed away November 29, 2012 at his "second home away from home" on the North wing, 5th floor of Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage after a fierce fight with cancer. His beloved son Sterling Crossman was at his side until his last breath. John was blessed with excellent caregivers; most of whom became close friends.
He was a true traveler throughout his life. One who loved adventure and relished exploring new countries and cultures. Friends and family will all miss his quick wit, his Cheshire cat grin and his zest for life. He wanted to truly know the hearts and minds of anyone who crossed his path. He recently traveled to Hawaii to celebrate the wedding of one of his nurses.
His family wrote, "John had a passion for life." The twinkle in his eye got passed down from James Michael to James Patrick to John Michael. He was candid and open about his opinions, and gave praise and feedback easily.
Seven years ago John learned that he had an eleven year old son, Sterling. Sterling was quickly embraced by his family and immersed in their love just months before John was diagnosed with a rare late-stage cancer. John and his doctors made a decision to be aggressive about his treatments and as a result he lived six years beyond the initial prognosis. After an infection was found in his liver a few months ago, he could no longer tolerate chemotherapy and the cancer spread. John never gave up hope and made plans to take his son on a Mexican Riviera cruise during the holiday break and live to see his high school graduation next spring. As a result of John's determination and the aggressive treatments, the medical community has learned much that will help others enjoy longer, higher quality lives.
John was a lifelong Alaskan, born on October 17, 1972 at Providence Hospital in Anchorage. He attended Homestead and Ravenwood Elementary Schools, Gruening Junior High School, and Chugach High School, and the University of Alaska Anchorage studying voice and music.
He performed in swing choir where he discovered his beautiful voice. He loved karaoke and hockey. He enjoyed travelling, especially to support his son's soccer team. He was a fantastic cook, making special soups and spaghetti. He enjoyed fine foods, including his mother's good cooking. John loved good wines and beer tasting. He had a discernible taste in dress.
He earned spending money as a young man by helping his mother with her cottage craft business. His summer jobs included stick-picker on the slope and laborer at a gold mine out of Hope. Later he became an oil field operator. Each year John ran the Relay for Life and Heart Run, and volunteered for Red Cross.
He was active and faithful in his religion and it carried him through to the end. In his travels, he visited the Shrine of the Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, he attended mass at St. Peter's in Rome and mass at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.
Survivors include his son Sterling Crossman; parents Patrick and Naomi Leonard of Eagle River; brother Steve (Cathy) Leonard and son Christian of Anchorage; Tina and Greg Erickson and son Bryce of Anchorage; Aunt Sue and Bob Moore of Colorado; Uncle John (Kathy) Lakey of California; Aunt Sheila Coulston of Montana; Aunt Sharon (Keith) Schwartz of Montana; Uncle James (Patty) Lakey of North Dakota; and a long list of friends and family.
He was preceded in death by his brothers Michael James and, most recently, Patrick Michael; grandparents James Michael and Francis Leonard, and Houston and Nellie Lakey.
Feel free to raise a glass in a pub of your choice to honor the passing of two wonderful Irish lads, John and his brother Patrick Leonard.
A service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on Wisconsin Boulevard, Fr. Vincent Blanko officiating. A reception will follow at the Parish Center.