While our physical offices are closed until at least April 13 due Austin's COVID-19 "shelter-in-place" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Walter L. Buenger

LEONARD, JOHN MARVIN (1895–1970). J. Marvin Leonard ("Mr. Marvin"), businessman and civic leader, son of Obadiah and Emma Clementine Leonard, was born on February 10, 1895, near Linden, Texas. His parents were farmers and for a time operated a small general store in Linden. A younger brother, Obadiah Paul Leonard, was a longtime partner in Leonard Brothers. Poor vision in one eye kept Marvin out of the army during World War I, but he took advantage of wartime prosperity to move to Dallas, where he worked in a store that specialized in salvaged merchandise. In 1918 he moved west to Fort Worth and on December 14 opened a store in which Obadiah joined him the next year. The business prospered and rapidly expanded beyond its original offering of groceries and salvaged merchandise. Leonard used extensive advertising, eye-catching events, and a commitment to low profit margin and high volume to turn the firm into the largest retail establishment in Fort Worth. By the 1930s Leonard Brothers dominated retailing in the Fort Worth area. Leonard also invested in real estate, banking, and oil.

Golf, particularly building golf courses, occupied much of his time. In 1934 he purchased 157 acres on the southwest side of Fort Worth and began to build a golf course. The Colonial Golf Club officially opened on January 29, 1936. After redesigning the course, Leonard persuaded the United States Golf Association to hold the 1941 United States Open at Colonial. From this tournament grew the Colonial National Invitation, with which Leonard was long associated. In December 1942 he sold Colonial to its members. Leonard often combined golf and business. In the 1950s he built the Shady Oaks course in Fort Worth. Earlier he had sponsored Ben Hogan on the professional tour. For a time Leonard was Hogan's partner in the production and sale of golf equipment. He also developed the residential areas around the Colonial and Shady Oaks clubs.

Leonard married Mary Elinor Vaughan in 1931. They had four daughters. He was a major financial supporter of the Lena Pope Home and Texas Wesleyan University. He sold his interest in the store to O. P. Leonard in 1965. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth. He died on August 26, 1970, in Fort Worth.


Fort Worth Press, August 27, 28, 1970. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 27, 28, 1970. Saturday Evening Post, June 24, 1944.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Walter L. Buenger, "LEONARD, JOHN MARVIN," accessed March 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fletr.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 16, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...