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Echoes of Doug Leonard

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 16/02) - If you listen carefully you can still here the reverberations of the legacy left behind by long-time Yellowknife resident and poet, Doug Leonard, who died Aug. 3 after battling throat cancer.

His friends describe him as a wonderful person who has blessed countless lives with his charity, wisdom and wonderfully humorous look at our lives and our place in the universe.

"He was a good old guy, he was laughing and joking, he was a fantastic person," said Dodie Luzny, manager of Yellowknife Cabs who worked with Leonard and was a friend of 25 years.

Leonard came to Yellowknife in 1948, six years after his birth in the community of Waterways outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The youngest of eight brothers and sisters, he was the only sibling to remain in Yellowknife while his brothers and sisters moved elsewhere.

Leonard's friend, George Tuccaro, delivered Leonard's eulogy during a service held Aug. 9.

"Our friend wouldn't want us to feel bad about his passing. Instead he would want us to remember the many things he's done in those 59 years among us," he said.

Leonard was a civil servant, a journalist working with Yellowknifer for a number of years, a poet, humorist, songwriter and accomplished taxi cab radio dispatcher.

"If he were to look back and see how many people he's touched in some way along his lifelong journey, I know that he would be humbled," said Tuccaro.

Leonard was pre-deceased by his father Ed, mother Mary, and oldest brother Wilfred.

A month before his death Leonard had a book of poems published entitled "Echo's of the North."

His poetry surrounding death was not one of fear but of curiosity and preparation.

He wrote:

"How many souls from the world have flown; How many hearts have failed; How many spirits have slipped away; From this human body that jails; How many loved ones did they leave behind; How many tears did they cry; How many hearts were broke in two; By those who had to die; Or when our heart has beat its last; Is our life snuffed out like a song; These questions I would like to ask; But who the answers could give; For who has gone to the land beyond; And come back here to live."