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
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
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
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
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.