A progressive man of valuable, practical experience and inspiring optimism is Hugh J. Leonard, the affable and popular secretary and manager of the People’s Finance & Thrift Company of Santa Cruz. A native of Ireland, he was born October 21, 1885, and as early as 1898, made his first trip to America. Remaining only a year, however, he went back to Erin, to work there as a farmer. He also crossed over to Scotland, and for a while worked for wages in Glasgow.
Coming to the United States for the second time in 1906, he was for eighteen months in the employ of the B. F. Goodrich Company at Boston, Massachusetts, and in the fall of 1907, came west to California, settling at Santa Cruz. On February 1, 1910, he entered the employ of the Santa Cruz County National Bank and during his thirteen years there, first served as teller and then assistant cashier.
In June, 1923, anticipating the great need of such an institution for the encouragement of industry and savings as stepping-stones to sound prosperity. Mr. Leonard helped to organize the People’s Finance & Thrift Company, of Santa Cruz, and was soon made both secretary and manager. This company transacts a general money-loaning business and expedites the accumulation of property and wealth of working people by assisting them to save and to pay debts by borrowing at low rates. It has a capital of fifty thousand dollars and the officers are: President, Dr. M. J. Gates; vice presidents, W. O. Kerrick, and C. C. Dake; secretary and manager, Hugh J. Leonard.
At San Rafael, California, in the year 1912, Mr. Leonard was married to Miss Grace O’Connor, a native of San Rafael, Marin county, and they have become parents of five children: Hugh J., Jr.; Michael Thomas, Patricia Aileen, William Francis and Shiela Ann. Mr. Leonard is a Knight of Columbus and he also belongs to Santa Cruz Lodge No. 824 of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.