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Bruce Leonard, a stalwart of the Grafton sporting community and a man who put Grafton basketball on the map, passed away on December 14. File image: Emma Pritchard.

Clarence Valley farewells sporting legend

Emma Pritchard |

His name will forever sit proudly above the entrance to the basketball stadium at the Grafton PCYC.
A lasting legacy and testament to a man who helped to put Grafton basketball on the map.
So passionate was his love for the sport and his local community, he dedicated more than 50 years to Grafton Basketball Association since 1965 and held the position of president or secretary for more than 30 years. 
Described as a legend of the sport, one of the best blokes you could ever meet and a friend and inspiration to many, Bruce Leonard passed away on December 14.
He was 79.
Nathan Martin, president of Grafton Basketball Association said in a statement released on the Grafton Vikings Facebook page that Mr Leonard had been a valued member and employee of the association for many years and would be sorely missed.
“In October this year, the new Grafton PCYC main basketball courts were named in his honour, a testament to his contribution to basketball in this town,” he wrote.
“While his loss will leave a huge hole in the Grafton basketball community, his legacy will live on for many generations.”
Along with putting Grafton basketball on the map, Mr Leonard was also influential in creating the Jacaranda Basketball Carnival which is one of the biggest tournaments in NSW.
An extremely humble man, he previously admitted to never having a high opinion of his playing ability, and it was his roles in administration and his coaching ability that saw his talent shine.
Between the 1970’s and 1990’s, he enjoyed an extremely successful period coaching basketball teams at Grafton and South Grafton High Schools.
Mr Leonard also coached junior and senior teams at representative levels and in recent years, his passionate devotion to a sport he loved so much saw him inducted into the NSW Basketball hall of fame.
“He was a true legend,” said Bryan Robins, committee member of Grafton Basketball Association.
“He was always so passionate about basketball and helping the sport grow within the local community and getting people involved.
“He inspired and influenced a lot of local basketball players.”
The reception which greeted Mr Leonard during the official ceremony when the Grafton PCYC basketball stadium was named in his honour on October 24 showed how well loved and respected he was by the local community.
Family, friends and colleagues of Mr Leonard paid tribute to the stalwart of the Grafton sporting community at his funeral service at Christ Church Cathedral on December 19.