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Michael Leonardo

Michael Leonardo, born September 12, 1953 in Fresno, California, passed away peacefully on September 7, 2023 in Dunlap.

Michael loved growing up in a small-town atmosphere which influenced Michael and his wife, Susie, to move to Dunlap in 2006 from Fresno and they have lived here since then.

As a child, Michael grew up in the small town of Fowler, California. He attended Fremont Elementary School; it was there he learned to play the trumpet and developed his love of music. In high school, he learned to play the guitar. During this time, he and his best friend, Anthony Alcazar, formed a band that played their music at backyard parties, college fraternities, as well as appearances on local television for fundraisers like the Jerry Lewis Telethon. His aunt, Ann Thaxter, also contributed to his love of music.

One of Michael’s other loves was hunting. He started hunting when he was about 12 years old with his dad. He maintained that interest through adulthood. He always said that the band and hunting kept him occupied and out of trouble. He developed many friendships though those hobbies and he maintained many of those friendships over the years.

Michael attended San Joaquin Memorial High School and graduated in 1971. He attended Santa Clara University majoring in Psychology and graduated in 1975. After graduation, Michael was hired with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department. While working at FSO, he was an instructor in self defense and PR 24 Baton. He taught classes at Fresno City College Police and Correctional Academies, as well as In-service classes for deputy and correctional officers. He helped form the Security Response Team, he was instrumental in rewriting the Detention Facility Policy and Procedures Manual, and he became an expert on Correctional Law. Michael, along with several other officers, was instrumental in designing and building two new jail facilities, which ultimately housed over 3,500 inmates. He attended the FBI National Academy in 1987. In 1999, he was promoted as the first Correctional Captain and was later reassigned as a Deputy Captain. Michael retired from the Sheriff’s Department in 2005, after 30 years of service.

During his retirement, Michael and Susie traveled to many states and foreign countries. He also became interested in Single Action Shooting and joined SASS. Michael also furthered his love of shooting by teaching others how to shoot and appreciate the sport. He was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, the FBI National Academy, the Tennessee State Sheriff’s Association, and the Daytona Beach Moose Lodge #1263.

Michael was predeceased by grandparents, Michael and Florence Leonardo, Francis McCoy and Mattie Rhee Buie Porter; and parents, Dr. Vincent and Frances Leonardo.

Leaving behind to mourn his loss are his beloved wife, Susie; and his siblings, Vinci and Dan Oneill from Leawood, Kansas, Ralfi and Tim Claspill from Fremont, California, Dani Lu and James Goodhart from Brentwood, California, and Dr. Victor and Vikkie Leonardo from Salem, Oregon. He will also be missed by his two fur babies, Babi and Billi.

The family would like to thank Gentiva Hospice, especially, Savanah, Marli, Rachel and Ashlyn for their care and compassion during Michaels remaining days. The family is especially thankful to their dear friends who kept Michael company and have helped in so many ways, Phyllis and Gary Lovett, Brenda Shockey, Julie Hackert, Rich Morin, Jeanee Meehan, and Misty Greene.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, September 22 at 1:00 pm (central time) at the Venue at Ponderosa, 6031 TN-28, Dunlap, TN.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be made in Michael’s memory to Tunnel to Towers, any pet rescue of your choice, or Young Guns Special Needs Youth Hunt.
Michael will be remembered for his love of life, his kindness, and especially his smile.

Online condolences can be made at

Arrangements by Standefer-Reed Funeral Home of Dunlap.

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