A veteran, Leonard was proud of serving his country during World War II as communications personnel in North Africa. Afterward, Leonard returned to Oklahoma City and continued working at his family's automobile repair shop. Leonard made his career there for more than 50 years, and that skill and expertise facilitated his hobby of designing, building, and maintaining airplanes.
When Leonard experienced his first flight in a Piper Cub more than six decades ago, he became "sold" on airplanes and flying. He and Rita soon earned their private pilot certificates, and Leonard also acquired his commercial ticket. In January 1957, they began building a Nesmith Cougar 1 experimental airplane. Their workshop was just behind their home.
Leonard, along with Rita, was a long-time EAA volunteer, helping with the fly-in starting during the Rockford days and long after the event moved to Oshkosh. They were awarded the EAA President's Award for Outstanding Contributions to EAA in 1973 and 1998. Leonard was a lifetime EAA member, a charter member of EAA Chapter 24, held many offices in the chapter, and received that chapter's Outstanding Member Award twice.
In 1963, Leonard won third place in an EAA design competition for his modified Cougar with its efficient folding-wing design. He, Rita, and Chigger were featured on the cover of EAA Sport Aviation in February 1963. Leonard designed and built Skeeter, a two-place composite airplane, in the early 1960s, and test-hopped Skeeter in September 1966 at Wiley Post Airport. Rita enjoyed flying Skeeter as well. Leonard was well respected as a test pilot for local homebuilders.
Leonard designed and built several more airplanes throughout the years. Leonard R. Eaves, EAA Lifetime 2194, who lost his life in the crash of his Skeeter 1M homebuilt on Saturday, March 3, 2012. He was reportedly en route to a pancake breakfast in Ponca City, Oklahoma, when the crash happened on the Clarence E. Page Airport near Yukon, Oklahoma. Leonard was 92, and is survived by his wife, Rita.