Orlando leader, Fred Leonhardt, dies at age 65
Fred Leonhardt, 65, a shareholder at GrayRobinson law firm in Orlando and prominent civic leader In Tallahassee and throughout the state, died early Saturday, his former law partner, his law firm said in a statement.
"Fred died in his home and we ask that you keep Fred and his family in your thoughts and prayers" said GrayRobinson founder, J. Charles Gray in a statement.
Leonhardt grew up in Daytona Beach, attended college and law school at the University of Florida and came to work in Tallahassee as a legal counsel to Democratic House Speaker Hyatt Brown in 1974.
Leonhardt represented clients before state and local governments as one of his firms top lobbyists and was a board certified real estate attorney. He was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to the Enterprise Florida Board, the public-private partnership tasked with recruiting companies and developing Florida business. He served on Enterprise Florida's board for 12 years.
Leonhardt held several other leadership roles over the course of his career including serving as chair of the boards of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Floridians for Better Transportation, the Orlando area Chamber of Commerce and The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. He was also a member of the James Madison Institute, a conservative public policy think tank.
Dean Cannon, a former Republican House speaker from Winter Garden who worked with Leonhardt at GrayRobinson, said Leonhardt was a mentor and friend.
"Fred was a tremendous positive influence on my early career and he truly loved helping people,'' Cannon said. "He was always upbeat, and generous to a fault. He will be sorely missed."
Jennifer Green, president of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, said Leonhardt was admired by many and a pleasure to work with. His Twitter handle was "lobby4good."
"Fred's positive attitude made the different in a very competitive business,'' she said. "He was always supportive of professional ethics in lobbying and finding ways to highlight the 'good ones' in the political process. I will miss his infectious grin and warm handshake."
Others offered their responses on social media.
"Fred Leonhardt was relentless,'' wrote Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in a Tweet. "You wouldn't outwork him or outfox him. He was working it before you got up & long after you called it a day."
"Heartbroken at the loss of our Fred Leonhardt,'' wrote Attorney General Pam Bondi in a Tweet."He was always smiling and kind to all."
"So sad to hear the news about Fred Leonhardt,'' wrote House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island in a Tweet. "Prayers for him and his family."