He graduated from NCSU with a master's degree in mathematics and accepted a position with Burlington Industries in Greensboro, NC. Jim worked for Burlington for 34 years in various positions and rose to be the manager of economic analysis and manager of Burlington's lobbying office in Washington, DC. For about 20 of those years, Jim was an advisor to the US Government, dealing with textile/apparel trade agreements with many foreign countries.
In 2001, Jim was asked to come to Washington as a government employee to run the committee he had been an advisor to for 20 years. He was then nominated by President George W. Bush to be deputy assistant secretary of commerce, having responsibility for textiles/apparel and all consumer goods. His last year in Washington, Jim was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in a very favorable article with his level of responsibility at the US Department of Commerce. Jim felt his time in Washington made a difference.
After he returned home, he consulted for the College of Textiles at NCSU and the NC Department of Commerce. Jim was known as a "credible" person with only a hand shake needed to close a deal. He returned to NC at the birth of his first grandson. Family was so important to him that he did not want to miss a moment in the life of grandchildren.
He was active in his church. He especially enjoyed being a Stephen minister and was closely involved with several care receivers in recent years.
His great joy in later life was being able to visit and care for his two grandsons. Until the grandsons reached school age, he helped to provide daycare one day every week. His great sorrow was not being able to see them grow-up. His great hope was that he and CeCe have instilled in their two sons, as their parents instilled in their children, Christian values that will lead them through life.
Jim is survived by his wonderful wife of 50 years, Cecelia Fulmer Leonard; sons James IV (Courtney) of Raleigh and John (Caitlyn) of Raleigh; and grandsons James V and Benjamin; brothers Ralph (Lib) Leonard of Mocksville, Donald (Joanna) Leonard of Winston-Salem; sister Carol (Calvin) Cobb of Houston, Texas.
A memorial service will be at Jamestown United Methodist Church, 403 East Main Street, Jamestown, NC 27282 on January 13 at 11 a.m. The family will receive family and friends in the Fellowship Hall after the service. Memorials can be made to Jamestown United Methodist Church for the music program or Building a Firm Foundation; Hospice Home at Highpoint, 1803 Westchester Drive, High Point, NC 27262; or Jamestown Historical Society, 603 W. Main Street, Jamestown, NC 27282. (Affordable Cremations of Winston-Salem).