Fran Leonard is in the Chat Room

Fran Leonard

Fran Leonard

Age: 44

Family: Married to Chris Leonard, and they have two children, Madeline, 12, and Brody, 10.

Occupation: Former teacher, community volunteer.

Fran Leonard grew up in the Athens/Sweetwater area and graduated in 1983 from Sweetwater High School.

She attended Hiwassee College, the University of Tennessee and graduated from Averett College in Danville, Va., with a biology degree and teaching certification. While at Hiwassee, Leonard was a member of the cheerleading squad.

Leonard and her husband, Chris, began dating in 1983 and married in 1986. During his four years in the Air Force, they lived in England. After his stint was over, Chris and Fran returned the states, and Chris earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee. They lived in Atlanta but moved to Maryville in 2003.

The biggest reason for moving to Maryville was the schools and the life their children could enjoy, Fran Leonard says.

“East Tennessee was home,” she says. “We wanted Madeline and Brody to have a great life growing up in East Tennessee.”

25 Random Things about Fran Leonard

1. My full name is Frances Merrill Estes Leonard. Frances was my maternal grandmother’s name. Merrill was my maternal grandfather’s name. Merrill, the grandfather for whom I’m named, was shot on a battlefield in France during World War I. He survived but was blind for the rest of his life. My great-great-great-grandfather was a colonel in the Continental Army.

2. I came along late to my parents. My mother was 38 when I was born, and my father was 45. I have an older half-brother and two older half- sisters. I was the pesky little sister who used to tag along on my sister, Carolyn’s, dates when she was in high school. By the time I was in the 8th grade, one of Carolyn’s high school boyfriends had become my science teacher. That was a little weird.

3. I grew up riding horses and had lots of animals. My first horse’s name was Sir Lancelot. I had a beagle, Freckles; a cat, Midnight; a goat named Nellie; and two pigs, Mert and Gert. We had chickens and guineas as well.

4. I wanted to be an archeologist when I was young. I always loved science and history, but I have always loved people, too. By the time I was in high school, I decided I would be either a social worker or nurse when I grew up. In the end, I wound up with a degree in biology and teacher certification. I taught 7th, 8th, and 9th grade science when I was first out of college.

5. Chris and I lived in England from 1988 until 1991. He was an officer in the Air Force before going to law school. I taught science at the Department of Defense school on base. My most unusual teaching experience in England took place in January of 1991 on the morning that the Gulf War began. Concrete barriers were placed around the entire school that morning. Our military was concerned about terrorism and threats made to our American base.

6. I was the 1982 Monroe County Fairest of the Fair. I later became Miss Congeniality at the state pageant in Nashville. I cheered in middle school, high school, and my first year of college. I was named Sweetwater High School’s Student of the Year when I graduated in 1983. I graduated magna cum laude from Averett College, Danville, Va., in 1987.

7. I collect “bodies of water.” I have either sailed on, swam in, waded in, or driven over the Thames, the Seine, the Rhine, Loch Ness, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi, the Colorado, the canals of Venice, Chesapeake Bay, the Hudson, etc. I want to continue adding to this list and eventually add the Amazon, the Nile and the Mediterranean.

8. First kiss was from my childhood sweetheart, John David. When we were in fifth grade, he had his mother drive him to my house to present me with a huge box of Valentine candy since I had been home sick from school on Valentine’s Day. He didn’t kiss me until the eighth grade, though.

9. Favorite songs: I love a very eclectic group of music - everything from Aerosmith’s, “Dream On,” to Beethoven’s, “Moonlight Sonata,” to Chopin, to anything from the group, Journey. I like new artists like Kelly Clarkson as well. The music that touches my heart the most is from the neoclassical group, Secret Garden. They are fabulous.

10. I’m most thankful for my family. Madeline and Brody are growing up so fast. I love having the house filled with children running in and out at all times. We always have a noisy, busy house.

11. I plan to read 1776 this summer. I also want to read Animal Farm again this summer. I most recently purchased Colin Cowie’s book on entertaining and one of Paula Dean’s cookbooks.

12. I cry a lot. Lee Greenwood’s, “Proud to be an American,” always makes me cry. I cry every time I hear “Amazing Grace.” I cried so much during the movie, “The Notebook,” that my eyes were swollen shut the next morning.

13. When we lived in England, everyone thought we were from Texas. The television show, “Dallas,” was very popular with the British. When they heard our Southern accents, they were convinced we were from Texas.

14. I have loved Russell Crowe for a long time and “Gladiator” is one of my favorite movies. He was incredible in “A Beautiful Mind.” I’ve discovered that I really like Clive Owen. I have to admit that I’ve watched “King Arthur” about five times just to see Mr. Owen. “Gone With the Wind” is probably my all time favorite movie. Chris and I have seen “The Hunt for Red October” a zillion times.

15. Years ago, Chris and I were touring Leeds castle in England. Our tour guide pointed out a beautiful painting in the castle of the past owner and her two gorgeous teenage daughters. Later that afternoon, the tour guide pointed out an elderly lady walking her dog in the castle courtyard. After the elderly lady had passed, the tour guide informed us that the old lady was one of the beautiful daughters we had seen in the painting. She still lived on the castle grounds. It was a “time warp” experience.

16. I love any type of food. I have never been picky. I adore Italian food, Mexican food and seafood. We also love salads at our house.

17. My favorite place is Maryville. I have been fortunate to travel to many different locations including Nova Scotia, Germany, France, etc. We have lived in Arizona, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and England. There truly is no lovelier, kinder and sweeter place than Blount County. I love the interconnection that everyone has with one another. My children are growing up with so many people who love them, teach them, coach them, and pray for them. I feel very blessed to live here.

18. I have had more embarrassing moments than I can count. I’ll never forget the day, while living in Tucson, Arizona, I was asked to substitute teach in a high school Spanish class. Being native Arizonans, most of the students were fluent in Spanish since childhood. They quickly realized that I could not speak a word of Spanish. It was a very long day.

19. We love to snow ski. Our children have become very good skiers. Chris and I will ski greens, blues, and some blacks, but the time we spend skiing as a family is very special to us. We love to swim and boat in the summer. I really love to cook and entertain.

20. Chris and I will be married 23 years this August. I think we knew on our very first date that we had found our person.

21. Chris and I were on the last commercial flight out of Charleston on the afternoon just before Hurricane Hugo hit that night in September of 1989. When we took off, the winds were already extremely strong, and the palm trees were already bent at sharp angles. It was a scary experience. We later found out that the Charleston airport did not reopen until 10 days later.

22. When I was 30, I had a Level II melanoma removed from my left leg. I was fortunate that it was caught in time. Every now and then, if I have some new ache or pain, I have the thought in the back of my mind that cancer has now returned in another location. I know God has a unique plan for each of us. I think we have to wake up each day and try to do the things that will please Him.

23. Organizations that I love and believe in include the Appalachian Ballet Company, Helen Ross McNabb Center, Maryville City Schools, Blount County Education Foundation, United Way, the new Civic Arts Center, Leadership Blount, just to name a few.

24. I was born on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. Could I have been born on Valentine’s Day? Oh, no, I get the honor of National Rodent Day.

25. Things I love include my family, friends, neighbors, Madeline and Brody’s friends, pansies and butterfly bushes, things that are soft, nice scents, the arts, food of any type, hand-written letters, good books, e-mail (but not 20 e-mails in a row), sports, and lots of laughter.

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