James Leonard – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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James Leonard

James Leonard

Aka Rustic, Mr Lemon and Citrus

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James Leonard (right) at a Listener Dinner

It is with sadness that I have to let you know that James Leonard passed away this morning in Barnstaple Hospital in Devon after a short illness.

Many of you may not have known James but his contribution to crosswords is immense. James established and edited the Enigmatic Variations series in the Sunday Telegraph from its inception, well over 1000 puzzles. These challenging puzzles have been a delight throughout and have always been warmly received by solvers.

In that time, many of the setters that we know and love have contributed to the series indeed a considerable number were given their first break in that puzzle.

I met James several times at Listener Crossword dinners and he was a genial, larger than life character who often dispensed advice and wit in equal measure. His own puzzles were always remarkable and were both witty challenging. James also produced the Listener Crossword Who’s Who, a record and pen pictures of the setters of that august puzzle.

We have lost one of the driving forces behind crosswords this weekend, and we will be the poorer without his wisdom and presence. R I P.

12 comments on “James Leonard

  1. Thanks for those heartfelt words, Tilsit.

    James had been in hospital for three days, during which time I have been overwhelmed with kind thoughts to be passed on to him from the many compilers who contribute to the Enigmatic Variations series. He was held in great affection and admiration by them all.

    We will sorely miss him.

    Phil McNeill
    Telegraph Crsswords Editor

  2. James Leonard has been my immidiate neighbour for the last 7 or 8 years. A happier or more interesting man i`ve yet to meet. My family and i will miss him, his kind smile and sence of humour that he shared with us most days Fond memories indeed. R.I.P James

  3. Brother James:

    Thank you all for these really kind words. I am wondering if there is any chance of getting hold of a copy of the picture above (or anything better if anyone has it). It would be nice to have something showing him in good times and enjoying himself to put in the service sheet. I’ve got plenty of him as a very young man but I think he was a bit camera shy recently.

    1. Hello Susanna, we were so sad to hear of James’ passing. We met James on Lundy when our daughter Sophie was about five and the two of them bonded straight away! In fact James would always bring her over some smoked salmon as a treat. I think you might find one of Sophie’s drawings in his wallet. She is now 19 years old and still loved meeting up with her surrogate uncle every year! I’ve got some pictures of James on Lundy if you would be interested.
      Kind regards,
      Frankie godding

      1. Thank you for your kind thoughts. Lundy was a huge part of James’ life for a large part of it. I would love any pictures you have. The Telegraph is looking for a good, full face one of him for his obituary. James was a bit camera shy, I think, in fact all of us are. I hate having pictures taken!

        Either email me them or prints would do. If you need my address please say so. The Telegraph needs a fairly high resolution one of him and so do I for his service sheet.

        My thanks again – Susanna

  4. I was so saddened to hear of James’ passing when I got back from a day trip to Lundy on the 28th. I will always remember our lively discussions about the island’s birdlife over a pint in the Marisco Tavern, and thoroughly enjoyed reading his notes in the Radio Room logbook when I stayed there.
    I will be back on Lundy next week and will be remembering him with a pint of Old Light on the 16th.
    My condolences to all his family and friends. He was a genuine character who will be greatly missed.

  5. james leonard was a remarkably gifted sportsman. throughout the 50’s,60’s and ’70’s he was one of the best rackets players in the world and partnered by tom pugh, he competed in and often won almost every national and international competition, just failing to become world champion. he hated losing and was a tough competitior as many of his opponents of those days will confirm.

    james was also a very talented amateur cricketer, as a batsman and wicket keeper, playing for years in good standard club cricket across the country. he ran a very entertaining cricket week in north devon annually during the 1970’s, which was an absolute must among his eton rambler friends, in view of the entertainment he offered on and off the field !

    it is a pity that the telegraph failed to recognise his considerable contribution to amateur sport, particularly on the rackets court.

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