Tragedy redirects her life
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
11/09/12 at 2:10 PM
After losing her husband, Diane Leonard has become a prominent victims advocate.
To say Diane Leonard's life
changed completely on
April 19, 1995, is not merely stating the obvious.
The explosion that killed
her husband, Don, and 167 others
was a self-evident catastrophe, but for
her it's been something else, too. The
day redirected her, as surely as a ray
of light through a prism.
"Ninety percent of what I do these
days is a result of April 19," Leonard
said in a recent telephone interview.
Leonard is chairwoman of the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation
Board, a three-member commission
that evaluates claims to a fund administered by the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council. It offers crime victims up to $20,000 for medical care,
rehabilitation, funeral expenses, work
loss, replacement services and survivors benefits, homicide crime
scene cleanup and caregiver
loss of support. The board sees
90 to 100 cases a month, Leonard said, and many of them are
hard to take.
"Some of these you start to
read, and you have to get up
and leave it for awhile," she
But then there is little in the
way of tragedy that Leonard
had not already heard or experienced firsthand when Gov.
Brad Henry appointed her to
the board two years ago. She
had been active among the families of bombing victims from
the start, and until recently
served on the Oklahoma City
National Memorial board of directors.
Leonard became involved
with families affected by the
events of Sept. 11, 2001, and
has accepted an invitation to
join Oklahoma County District
Attorney Wes Lane's victims advisory board.
The state board, though, is
the biggest challenge. Leonard
said she felt a responsibility to
"So much was done for the
victims of our crime," she said.
"This was a chance to give
back. It's a volunteer position,
and it does take quite a bit of
time, but I did want to give
back some of what we received."
Sometimes, the feeling is reciprocated. On Easter Sunday, a
woman Leonard got to know after the Sept. 11 attacks called
"She knew it would be a difficult day for me," Leonard said.
"It (Easter) was the last family
dinner we all had together.
With Don there, I mean."
About the only aspects of
Leonard's life not directly
linked to the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building bombing are a
budding career as a glass artist
and helping care for her aging
father in Tulsa, where Leonard
grew up. She plans to participate in several activities related
to the bombing's 10th anniversary. Some she looks forward
to, some she does not.
"For me, each year when the
names of the victims are read,
it is more difficult because I
know more of the families behind them each year."
But the annual get-togethers
after the April 19 ceremonies,
Leonard said, are like family reunions.
"They are a time to get
caught up on everyone else,"
Theories persist that Timothy
McVeigh and Terry Nichols,
the men convicted of the bombing, were not the only conspirators. With the anniversary approaching, California
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has raised the possibility of
a congressional probe of the
Leonard is not enthusiastic.
"I absolutely do not subscribe
to the position of the group
that says this was part of a
larger conspiracy," she said.
"I've attended three trials. I've
come to know many of the people involved in the investigations. I'm satisfied we have the
two . . . who perpetrated this
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365
A new road
Diane Leonard is chairwoman of theOklahoma Crime Victims CompensationBoard, a three-member commission thatevaluates claims to a fundadministered by the Oklahoma DistrictAttorneys Council.
Diane Leonard and her son leave theU.S. Courthouse after attending the trialof Timothy McVeigh in Denver on May 5,1997.