Leonard W. Besinger Jr., 76, of Marengo, formerly of Oak Park, died on Aug. 14, 2011 following an auto accident in New Mexico. Born in Chicago, he grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. Like his childhood hero, Ernest Hemingway, he had a taste for fishing and adventure.
After graduating with a degree in architecture from M.I.T., he and his father built subdivisions in the northwest suburbs in the 1950s and '60s. He designed the Meadowdale International Raceway north of Carpentersville to attract people to the area. The track only lasted 10 years, but during that time, the population grew by a factor of 10.
He also designed office buildings and built homes as far away as the Florida Keys. At his ranch near Playas, N.M., he founded the Bellanzi Vineyard and raised Texas Longhorn cattle.
He enjoyed sculpting, fishing and traveled much of the world.
Leonard Besinger is survived by his sons, Leonard III, Richard and Blase; his daughters, Elizabeth Duran and Amanda; his brother, Greg; his sisters, Janet Scarpelli, Barbara, Penny Hendricks and Leslie; six grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.
Services have been held.