Carl and Mary Leonard
Carl and Mary Leonard spent a great deal of their Iives sailing and working in Asia, the South Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Originally from the USA, Mary taught English in local communities while Carl worked on civil engineering projects. In their later years they divided their time between Brisbane and Whangārei. For six months each year they lived on their schooner, ‘Annabelle’, moored in the Whangārei Town Basin.
Upon retirement, they lived in Brisbane where they devoted themselves to teaching at the University of the Third Age and to a number of philanthropic projects. These included the Carl and Mary Leonard International Relations Award for Queensland University of Technology (QUT) students to undertake study or volunteer work in a less developed country. They had no connection to QUT, apart from years looking out the window of their apartment and watching students walk to the university nearby.
In 2005 Carl and Mary Leonard donated $25,000 to Whangarei Libraries to be used to purchase material to help young people in choosing a career. This became the Carl and Mary Leonard Collection located in the Teens' area at Whangārei Central Library. Their reason for the donation was to repay the city they've come to think of as "home".
"We have reaped the benefits of living here and we just would like to give back something to the community," said Mary. They saw the library as an ideal recipient because it was public, unrestricted and free. "That's what we like - there's no restriction, it's not for a privileged few."
Following their deaths in Brisbane, Carl on 18 March 2011 (on the day of Mary's 100th birthday) and Mary in 2013, Whangarei Libraries received a very generous bequest of $337,875 to be used for the delivery of library services in the Whangārei District.
The couple were not able to gain New Zealand residency but loved the place so much they wanted to make a difference and chose Whangarei Libraries as one of the beneficiaries of their wills.
The downstairs meeting room at Whangārei Central Library was named 'The Leonard Room' in their honour.