By Linda Chion Kenney
In the summer of 2020, the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce was able to reward four high school seniors a $1,000 scholarship in Earl Lennard’s name. One student was chosen from Riverview High School, Lennard High School and East Bay High School each along with one high school senior of a GRCC member.
These scholarship recipients are Allison Powers (Riverview High School), Chanel Campbell (Lennard High School), Ashley Aagaard (East Bay High School) and Willow Morgan (GRCC Family Member). In true 2020 fashion, to celebrate the students, the chamber held a drive-through caravan.
Original story printed January 2020.
From farm to schoolhouse, county fair to boardroom, Earl J. Lennard is remembered as a “humble, homegrown icon” whose teachings, kindness and leadership leave an indelible mark.
The namesake of Lennard High School in Ruskin died December 23 at age 77 after a prolonged illness that led to his hospitalization since Thanksgiving 2018.
Lennard entered the Hillsborough County public school system as a first-grader at Palm River Elementary and left as its superintendent of schools upon retirement in 2005. Four years later, Gov. Charlie Christ appointed him Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, to replace Phyllis Busansky, who died that year. Lennard served out the remainder of her term and then ran unopposed for his own four-year term.
Under his watch as superintendent, Hillsborough grew from the 11th-largest to the eighth-largest school district in the nation, necessitating the addition and renovation of more than 90 schools. One of nine siblings, Lennard worked on his family’s farm and tended to the details of its roadside vegetable stand.
A longtime member of Riverview United Methodist Church, he taught Gleaners Sunday School there up until his illness. His daughter, Missy, in 2009 became the charter principal of the elementary school in FishHawk named for Richard ‘Dick’ Stowers, who died in January.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Riverview United Methodist Church, general fund, for a scholarship program in Lennard’s name.