Kingston - James M. Leitnaker, age 96, of Kingston, died peacefully on January 10, 2021 at Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge. Born in Indiana, Jim grew up in Baldwin, Kansas and eventually settled in Kingston. He entered World War II at the age of 18 and was awarded the Purple Heart. While overseas, he met and married his sweetheart Jean who hailed from England. Their union spanned 67 years and produced six children. Jim also served in the Korean War where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Kansas and taught chemistry at Baker University. Ultimately Jim and Jean and their children settled in East Tennessee in 1965 to begin a long career at both K-25 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he held numerous patents.
In retirement, Jim enjoyed life on his small farm in Kingston. He gardened, raised dogs and embraced the life of a gentleman farmer. He loved to sing and was known to belt out "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" as he tilled his garden. Jim had the true heart of a servant and in his retirement his overarching commitment was to public education. He tutored and mentored many students, served two terms on the Roane County Board of Education, was founder and president of The Children's Reading Foundation of the Tennessee Valley and a tireless supporter of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. He carried enrollment forms for Dolly's organization everywhere he went and signed up countless children over the years. In addition, Jim was an active member in the Rotary Club and belonged to Kingston United Methodist Church where he taught Sunday School. His guiding scripture was Micah 6:8 "And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." Jim embodied these words throughout his life and he will forever be remembered as a good and faithful servant.
Jim was predeceased by his wife Jean; son, James M. Leitnaker Jr.; daughter, Ruthie Paddock, and sister, Claire Tamblyn. He is survived by his sons, Pete (Sharon) Leitnaker and John (Anne) Leitnaker; daughters, Mary Leitnaker and Sara Shaver; a multitude of grandchildren and great grandchildren; brother, Frank (Chris) Leitnaker, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Jim's life will be held at a later date due to Covid 19. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made in Jim's memory to The Roane Imagination Library, P. O. Box 128, Kingston, TN 37763. Arrangements by Cremation Options, Inc. (865)6WE-CARE (693-2273) www.cremationoptionsinc.com.
Published in Knoxville News Sentinel from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, 2021.