Ralph Leonard, 74, of River Forest, died suddenly on Nov. 30, 2011 while attending a theater performance. Born in Sharon, Penn. in 1936, he was the oldest of four children. His father was an engineer for Westinghouse; his mother had been a teacher. The family moved to Brookfield, Ohio, a more rural setting, when he was in grade school. They had land with a farmhouse, pond, woods, and barn in which they kept a cow, a horse, some sheep and chickens.
Mr. Leonard graduated from high school in 1954 with honors and a scholarship to the University of Ohio. He entered a work-study program in chemical engineering. After earning his Ph.D., he went to work for DuPont. He moved to River Forest in 1972 to work at ChiVit Corp. In 1977 he was hired at Argonne National Laboratory, where he worked on a centrifugal contactors for solvent extraction, addressing the problem of nuclear waste. He was still employed as a consultant.
A 33-year member of the Unitarian-Universalist congregation at Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple, he was a devoted participant in the temple choir. He was an avid supporter of Morton Arboretum and a lover of art, nature and music.
He is survived by his wife, Mary; his four children, Laura Luckadoo, Sharon Fries, Angela Milstead and Mark Smith; and his eight grandchildren, Nicole, Allison, David, Dylan, Mardi, Haley and Jake.
There will be a memorial service at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Unity Temple, 875 Lake St., Oak Park.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Music Program are appreciated.