Leonard J. Thom was the oldest of eight children, born to Walter and Maye Thom. Walter Thom worked as a blacksmith. Walter’s father J. J. Thom, pictured below, had a blacksmith shop on Hayes Avenue, next to the American Crayon plant.
In 1936, Leonard J. Thom graduated from Sandusky High School, where he was a standout football player. He went on to play football at Heidelberg College, and Ohio State University. Thom was a guard for the Buckeyes. After playing semi-pro football for the Columbus Bulls, he coached high school football for a year in Columbus.
During World War Two, Leonard J. Thom, became an Ensign in the Navy, and was an Executive Officer of the PT-109, serving under John F. Kennedy. When the torpedo boat was cut in half in August of 1943, Leonard Thom and Jack Kennedy both assisted in the rescue of the men aboard ship. Both men were awarded the Purple Heart.
In 1944, Leonard Thom married Kate Holway in Youngstown, Ohio. He was working at an insurance agency and commuting to Columbus for college classes when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in October of 1946, at the age of 29. The “Leonard J. Thom Memorial Scholarship Fund” at Sandusky High School helps to keep his memory alive.