On November 7, 2021, at the age of 80, Leonard Dale Sweeten departed quietly on his last road trip, leaving behind family and friends with sad hearts filled with warm memories. A beloved husband, father, papa, brother, uncle, and friend, Leonard was born on September 1st, 1941 at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Leonard attended Denair schools from 1947 through 1959. In high school he was a leader in FFA and a three-sport athlete. He was big, strong, and athletic which he credited to working on the farm. His fondest memories were playing both sides of the line on the Denair High School football team, going undefeated in his sophomore season. He was named outstanding lineman in his junior and senior years. Denair’s 50-year all-star football team included him as an offensive tackle. Leonard loved sports throughout his life.
After High School he attended Modesto JC for two years, then joined the newly established Peace Corps, serving two years in El Salvador. This proved to be a defining experience in his life as he met and worked with many highly educated and motivated associates, who served as role models and were friends for life. He met Sara in September 1963 when she arrived as a member of his replacement group. They fell in love and he proposed marriage. Returning via bus, the leg from Mexico City to Turlock tested their power of endurance. Leonard said, “if we could handle a multi-day trip in the back of a bus, we were compatible.” They married on January 11, 1964 with Sara making life so much better for him, often serving as a “calming influence.” He returned to Fresno State to complete his business degree, then earned a master’s degree at the University of Oregon. He served as a Pacific Telephone personnel manager for twenty years, beginning in Menlo Park, then leading him to Hollister, where he built a small farm and raised his family.
In 1986, he returned to his roots, moving to Turlock and joining his mother’s real estate business. A year later, he built a house on his natal family’s homeplace near Denair. Sara continued her teaching career in Turlock, retiring in 2002. Both being retired, he fulfilled a long-time dream of buying a motor home and “hitting the road”. In their 40’ diesel pusher, they traveled throughout the country visiting children and grandchildren on both coasts, touring every state as well as flying to Australia to see Jennifer and her family. The nomadic lifestyle eventually ended in 2012, and they returned to the Turlock area. In 2018, he and Sara returned to the “farm” and the occasional view of Half Dome on the distant horizon. He truly loved life and never lost his sense of wonder. Towards the end, Leonard said “wish me a good trip.” Indeed, travel safely—see you at a rest stop up ahead.
Leonard is survived by his wife, Sara (Warren); son Richard (Angela) of Colorado Springs; son Michael (Kirsten) of Denair; son Jonathan (Tara) of Chesapeake, VA; daughter Jennifer (Andrew) Leach of Perth, Australia; and brother Alan (Carol) of Turlock. And twelve grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Berla; his mother Jamimah; his brother, Ralph; and his sister, Joyce (Robert) Redmon. Leonard requested no funeral service. An extended obituary with an opportunity to post comments is available on the website of Allen’s Mortuary of Turlock.