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Southern Oregon lost an outstanding citizen. Nancy Leonard

Senator Doug Whitsett
R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Phone: 503-986-1728 900 Court St. NE, S-303, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett
State Seal
E-Newsletter 7/31/12

Last week, Southern Oregon lost an outstanding citizen. Nancy Leonard had dedicated nearly three decades of her life in service to the Upper Rogue communities. She was widely respected both as a civic minded individual and as owner and editor of Eagle Point’s Upper Rogue Independent newspaper.

Nancy truly held the education and the interests of the Upper Rogue Valley kids in her heart. She helped to found, fund, support and maintain the very successful D-9 Foundation that has done so much to advance the education of the Upper Rogue Valley students. Her newspaper dedicated a great deal of effort, newsprint and ink to stories chronicling student events and achievements. She believed that our children are our future and she always made the time for stories about the next generation. Even in death she asks that contributions be made in her name for Eagle Point scholarships.

Nancy was a founding member of the Eagle Point Chamber of Commerce. She always made the personal time to help promote the expansion of the Eagle Point business community. No business started of expanded in her community without being noted and promoted in her Upper Rogue Independent.

Nancy was a tough businesswoman. Significant effort and business acumen is required to maintain a profitable small community newspaper. She managed to do that throughout her journalistic career without compromising her standards. The Upper Rogue community embraced her “performance over profit” philosophy by actively supporting her newspaper for more than a quarter century.

First and foremost, Nancy was a journalist. She maintained a standard of journalistic excellence that is rare in today’s tabloid news. She demanded that stories printed in the Upper Rogue Independent be well researched and that the facts were stated without embellishment. She worked at insuring that her news-stories brought out the perspectives of all sides. She had no patience for yellow journalism. She strongly believed that news stories must stick to the facts and that opinion should only be found on the editorial page.

Nancy did not hesitate to take on controversial subjects on her editorial pages. She did have an opinion on almost everything. Her editorial articles often led to robust discussions in her community as well as in printed letters to the editor. Not everyone agreed with her, not everyone liked her, but I have yet to meet the person who did not respect her.

Nancy had no peer in her knowledge of the history of her communities regarding business, education, public safety and local governance. She knew the people, their families and how they had interacted among themselves for decades. She had a memory like a steel trap that served as a veritable Eagle Point archive. Her knowledge of community provided a unique perspective that often helped her get to the bottom of a story in short order.

Nancy left her life’s journalistic work in the capable hands of the Upper Rogue Independent’s new editor and owner Ralph McKechnie. I am certain that she was confident that Ralph, Kathy, and the rest of the newspaper’s staff would continue to practice the excellent journalism that was her trademark. Nancy would have it no other way!

Nancy was truly an original. Gail and I first met her during my 2004 campaign for the Senate. We found her to be informed and conversant on an incredible number of subjects. There was little about the people and the town of Eagle Point that she did not know. Her knowledge of state and national politics was truly comprehensive.

We have enjoyed her company, her perspectives and her counsel for the past eight years. She was not quick to develop personal trust and friendship, but once that trust was established, she was a loyal trusting friend.

We will miss her immensely.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon no one will.




Best regards,








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