Make a positive impact – Columbus Messenger
By Dedra Cordle
Financial stability has always been out of reach for Gary Leasure’s parents.
Recalling their times of struggle, Leasure said they did their best with what they had, but it wasn’t easy to see them having to choose between paying the bills or paying to put enough food on the table. table.
“It was tough,” he says. “We have all been through a difficult time. “
While her mother and father may have lacked financial wealth, they raised their children to know the importance of emotional wealth.
“We grew up knowing that you can’t always invest money to make things better,” Leasure said. “But what you can do is lend an ear, volunteer your time, or just be a decent person to others, especially when needed.”
As Leasure grew and found some success, he made a promise that he would continue to live up to the lessons he learned as a child and that he would continue to put them into practice for so long. that it would be “blessed” to live on this planet. .
His friends say he kept that promise and that’s what makes him so worthy of the recognition he received last month from his beloved adopted town and a local civic organization.
On July 23, the City of Grove City and the Grove City Rotary Club hosted a boardroom presentation to recognize Leasure as the 2021 recipient of the Service Above Self Award. According to Rotary President Ronnie McClure, this award recognizes an unknown or unrecognized resident who has “made or left a lasting impact for the betterment of the community, state, nation or world.”
“I think Gary exemplifies all of these traits,” he said.
McClure said he had known Leasure since he was a child and had always known him as “a great man”.
“I remember going to the business he owns (Ace Truck Body Inc.) to buy parts for our snowplow with my dad,” he said. “He was always helping. “
But owning and operating a successful business wasn’t what pulled Leasure off the list for the Service Above Self award, McClure added. Instead, it’s his work outside of his company that has placed him alongside former award winners Leslie Bostic, Steve Jackson, Sherol Saxton Mulligan, and Tiney M. McComb.
“He’s been involved in just about everything you can think of since he moved here,” McClure said.
Doug Wallace, a Rotarian who nominated Leasure for the award, said that pretty much sums up his friend of over four decades.
“He’s always involved in something to make the community a better place to live. “
In 1978, Leasure and his family moved to Grove City from Zanesville in order to expand their business. Although he was involved in the government of this city as a member of the council and its mayor in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he vowed he would not get involved – or too much. involved – in the events of his adopted city.
“It was just for business,” Leasure said. “I didn’t want to get involved with the city government; I did not want to make municipal committees. I just wanted to volunteer with some bands that I liked and that would be it.
Then he met Tiney M. McComb, a local banker and notable civic leader, who needed help raising funds for flood victims in his home state of West Virginia.
“Well, I got involved in this effort, and then I couldn’t help but get more involved.”
Over the decades, Leasure has been active in the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grove City Planning Commission, the Westland Area Business Association Board of Directors, the South-Western City Schools Educational Foundation and of the South-Western City Schools Board of Education. .
Leasure said his willingness to get involved in the latter surprised him.
It was in the early 1990s, and Leasure had seen several failures of operating levies and bond issues. Knowing how these failed issues were hurting children in the growing community, he made a comment to one of the campaign organizers and was challenged to do better.
In 1994 he campaigned successfully to pass an operating tax of 8.9 million euros – “he became known as” The Sign Guy “because he always had signs in his truck, ”said Ron Hutcheson, the former sports supervisor at Grove City High School. – and two years later he was recruited to run for a seat on the education council.
“It was only going to be for one term,” he said. “I ended up serving until 2007.”
He said there had been a lot of “ups and downs” during his tenure on the board, but he loved every minute of it.
“The people of this community are just as passionate as I am about doing well for these children,” he said. “We weren’t always in agreement, but we always talked about how we could all improve.”
Leasure said his health caused him to “slow down volunteering a bit,” but he was able to continue to contribute to the community he loves.
Recently, friends said he bought a throwing machine and new uniforms for Franklin Heights High School baseball teams, and even contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase a new one. artificial field at Grove City High School Football Stadium.
Leasure said he hopes the whole state can benefit from this new area.
“I hope to see hundreds of groups competing there again,” he said.
Leasure said he does nothing – be it lend an ear, volunteer or donate money – for praise or recognition.
“While I am honored to receive the Service Above Self award, frankly I think they should have given it to someone more deserving than me.”
Longtime friend Dave Burris said he couldn’t think of anyone else more worthy of recognition than Gary Leasure.
“She is the most generous person I have ever met in my life,” he said.