James Leopard is pictured as a Green Hand in 1954. This was our Freshman FFA
class. He is next to Mitch Allen in the front row to your right.
Well Senior class of '57, we have lost another. I am sure every time, you, like me, are reminded of the
good Ole days, when we were all young and had our entire lives ahead of us. When you are on the
young side of 20, everything appears "future", but now that we are in the "future" we all want to go
"back to the future". At least I do and suspect you do to.
James Leopard came to us when the Cross Roads school had burned, He, along with an outstanding
group, helped to make our class one of the best ever!! James and I were buddies, because that's what
James was.....A BUDDY!! He and I were in Ag together, that I remember. ..He was handicapped, but
never tried to exploit it. He was just one of the guys. Actually, my Freshman year, I was pretty much a
nerd, which meant that I was not an athlete. James and I bonded our Freshman year, especially
because he too was not an athlete. We had several that could be included in this group. Myself,
James Leopard, James Newell, Mitch Allen, Ronnie Stockman, and William Giles. We weren't outcasts,
necessarily, just were not the "in" crowd. Well, I take that back, Mitch Allen was, because of his bands.
In those days, I was "who-royed" by many, but not by James Leopard. As best I remember, he had
polio as a child. I never knew for sure. Later, my Sophomore year, by the insistence of Royce Shelton,
I went out for football and left behind some of my nerdy ways, but James Leopard still remained a
friend, as he was to everyone. James was always quiet, as I remember, and never gave any of the
teachers any trouble. After graduation in '57, he went to HCJC for a while and on occasion rode the
HCJC bus with us. Over the years I would, every now and then,hear about him and I had heard that he
owned a used car lot in Athens. If he came to any of our earlier reunions, I don't remember, but he did
come to our 50th in 2007. During the reunion preparation I had contacted James and spoken to him.
Since I was in charge of collecting the money for the reunion, James had written me a check. When I
saw it, I immediately contacted him because he had written it to me, but left the amount blank. OOps!!
Of course he did not mean to do that. We had a good laugh. During our talk, I had learned that he had
been in a bad car accident a few years before and been in the hospital for a while. He considered
himself lucky to be alive and not hurt any worse than he was. Not too long after the reunion his wife
had passed away and we had briefly talked, but not recently.
Rest in peace, James as you pass into the next realm with our other classmates.
James and his wife at our 50th reunion
By Don Henderson, Nov 2, 2015