January 12, 2021
As Chairman of the Allegany County Board of legislators, I am deeply saddened by the passing of Leonard Watson, as is our entire Board of Legislators, both past and present. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Leonard’s wife Marge and the Watson family.
Leonard Watson was a walking history book for Allegany County and one of our proudest citizens, always helping to promote and advance our County’s development. With a brief look at his long serving dedication on our behalf, you begin to understand why.
Leonard Watson was one of our County’s longest serving County Legislators and was a member of the first Board of Legislators, which was established in 1970. In the late 1960s, Allegany County worked to go from a Board of Supervisors form of county government to a Board of Legislators, and Leonard helped to make this transition possible as he was serving as Supervisor for the Town of West Almond at that time. Leonard played an integral part to help plan and lay the foundation for our current Board. This included mapping the Legislative Districts, Board Rules, terms of office, and the committee system that we continue to use today.
Serving on our first Board of Legislators in 1970, Leonard continued as a Legislator until the end of 1988. During his time in office, he held many leadership positions. He served as Chairman of the Board of Legislators in 1987 and 1988, and over his many dedicated years as an elected official, he served as Chairman of the Social Services Committee, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, and Chairman of the Special Building Projects Committee. As Chairman of the Special Building Projects Committee (from 1972 until abolished in 1978), which was responsible for the construction of the County Office Building where our Legislative Chambers and other departments are housed today, Leonard led the efforts for a very successful project.
Leonard served on the Board of Directors of our local Soil & Water Conservation District from 1970 to 1993, and in 1970, he attended the New York State Association of Soil & Water Conservation District Conference at Alexandria Bay. With his love of the land and farming, Leonard was honored in 1981 to represent New York State with an expense paid vacation-study trip to the Wigwam Resort and Goodyear Farms in Litchfield Park, Arizona, where he was joined by other select representatives from each state as well as Puerto Rico.
Beyond his involvement in town and county government, Leonard was a talented craftsman; some of his projects can be seen in the Courthouse, County Office Building, and around the County. Allegany County will always be grateful for the influence and dedication Leonard Watson had for Allegany County.