When Leonard was a child in Moline, friends speculated on a career as baseball player or (more realistically) as part of the family cement tile business. World War II intervened. This Dutch-American son from a small Michigan town served as a Seabee in the Pacific and then pursued his passion for education on the G.I. Bill. He eventually earned three degrees from Michigan State University, the highest an Ed.S. Beginning as a history teacher, he switched locations around Michigan as he moved up the public school ladder to principal and then to school superintendent, the position he held in Lowell through the 1970s and at retirement from Muskegon Oakridge. In education, he recruited hard for good teachers and worked to introduce best practices in pedagogy including effective learning spaces for students. People who knew him groaned or laughed at his bad puns, for he used humor to lighten the mood whether at the outset of a test or in a long meeting.
Early in his career he met and married Evelyn Bennett, who came with two children in tow—children he sought to nurture as his own. Len and Evelyn soon bore a daughter. They raised their family and watched it grow into another generation. During these years Leonard served as a lay leader at his church, particularly the First Congregational Church of Lowell, and as a member of other civic groups such as Rotary. In retirement, Leonard adopted a snowbird existence, migrating between Lowell and Florida and taking in swing jazz festivals along the way. After the death of Evelyn, a chance meeting in the doctor’s office led to another lease on love, with Wilma Gerred. His marriage as an octogenarian added another multi-generational step-family into his life. Leonard died 13 December 2016 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Continuing to fight that disease through the Alzheimer’s Association would be a fitting remembrance for those so inclined. Memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Michigan Chapter, 25200 Telegraph Rd., Ste 100, Southfield, MI 48033-7443. A memorial service will take place 15 January at 2:30 (1:30 visitation) at the Roth-Gerst Funeral Home, 305 N. Hudson, Lowell. Leonard is survived by his spouse, Wilma Sinke; children and stepchildren, Dr. Suzanne Sinke (Dr. Eberhard Roeder), Dr. Jan (Tammy) Bennett, Diana Keenan, and Charlene (Phillip) Johnson; not to mention several grandchildren, Leni Sinke, Franz Roeder, Mark Bennett, Matthew Bennett, Robert Keenan; and a score of Sinke and Johnson relatives in the West Michigan area.