Richard Leonard, who served as 1976-77 president of the organization then called Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, died May 18. He was 92.
He was the longtime editor of the Milwaukee Journal (now the Journal- Sentinel), having joined the paper in 1947 after graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Leonard become the Journal’s top editor in 1967. Under his leadership, Time magazine named the Journal one of the nation’s 10 outstanding newspapers.
Before journalism, he saw tours in the Pacific during WWII. He enlisted in the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
During his SPJ presidential tenure, Leonard visited nearly 30 cities to meet with chapters and local members. Under his presidency membership grew by 4,765, bringing it to a high of 34,000, capping a decade that saw membership increase by 89 percent and the number of chapters grow by 54 percent. One of the pillars of his presidency was to make greater efforts toward representation of broadcasters in the Society.
Outside of SPJ and the Journal, he was active in several other journalism organizations. He was a member of the Pulitzer Prize board for 10 years and was active in the American Society of Newspaper Editors, International Press Institute and the Inter American Press Association.
Throughout his career, he took extensive reporting trips to Africa in 1967, South America in 1969, Asia in 1970, the Soviet Union in 1971, the Middle East in 1973 and China in 1975.
Before becoming SPJ president, he served as national secretary-treasurer and Region 5 director.
After retiring from the Journal, he taught journalism at Marquette University and worked for four years in Hawaii as editor-in-residence of the East-West Center, an exchange program for U.S. and Asian journalists.
Scott R. Schmedel
Scott R. Schmedel, of Mountainside, N.J., who joined Sigma Delta Chi in 1950 at Indiana University, died Nov. 9, 2013. He was 82. As an employee and then a freelancer, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal for 50 years. He was best known for writing the weekly front-page column, Tax Report, for 14 years. He was a 1953 graduate of Indiana University. At IU he served as editor of The Indiana Daily Student and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.