has just always been there. Their rock. Their ship’s ballast.
Their confidant. Their confessor.
For certain ladies of the Potomac Hunt, Leonard Proctor is not just
another member of the hunt field, he is a member of their family. For
some of the Potomac women, the families who helped found and shape the
Potomac Hunt Club, Leonard has been a part of their lives since they
Ask Sylvia Bogley Bigger or Fran “Junior” Magassy for their
earliest memories of Leonard, and instead of an answer you will get
a slightly perplexed look. It is the same look that you would have if
you had asked someone to share her earliest memory of a parent. Earliest
memory? Impossible. Like a mother or a father, Leonard has just always
been there. They have never known life without him.
For those who were new to Potomac, Leonard and his famed uncle, Johnny
Jackson, were the key to being accepted into the Potomac social circle.
“I knew,” explains Jt.-MFH Vicki Crawford, “that when
I moved to Potomac in 1960, and I joined the hunt, if I wanted to make
any friends I had to make sure that Johnny and Leonard liked me. I spent
my first entire party getting to know them, not the guests! If they
didn’t like you, you could
forget it. Little did I know, it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.”
Who were Johnny Jackson and Leonard Proctor, these gatekeepers of society?
They were the bartenders.
But Johnny and Leonard were not “just” bartenders; they
were Potomac’s social arbiters.
The Home Place
Like others in his family in the 1930s and 1940s, Leonard lived some
of the time at “The Home Place,” the family’s settlement
of homes off River Road, and the rest of the time in Washington, where
his family worked in the households of the Washington establishment,
many of whom belonged to the Washington Riding and Hunt Club at 22nd
and P Streets.
As Washingtonians began to move out to Potomac, it opened up job opportunities
closer to “The Home Place.” In 1945, Uncle Johnny Jackson
got 15-year-old Leonard Proctor a job exercising horses, and in 1947
Leonard hunted for the first time. And that was that. He liked this
While they were settling Potomac and building farms, the local landowners
likewise began forming the nucleus of the Potomac Hunt at the farm of
General Semmes on Glen Road. Also at that time, a farmer’s pack
of hounds was established at Charlie Carrico’s Bradley Farm (near
the intersection of River Road and Bradley Boulevard). In 1945, the
year Leonard learned how to ride, the Potomac Hunt came into its own,
establishing a clubhouse and kennels on Glen Road in Travilah, eventually
absorbing the remains of the old Washington Riding & Hunt Club.
Throughout the memoirs of these families can be found the members of
Johnny and Leonard’s families. The lives of the Jackson family
are woven through the lives of the founding families of the Potomac
hunt…whenever a memoir is written, a Jackson is mentioned.
While Johnny worked primarily in those days for the Kay family (it is
he who dubbed Fran “Junior” when she was just a tot), Leonard
worked for a variety of families, including the Bogleys. When Sylvia
started hunting as a little girl, Leonard was the one she remembers
as always being there, making her feel safe. As the club grew, so did
Leonard’s involvement. He moved out from under his uncle’s
wing, and began riding horses—and making foxhunters—for
In 1951, Leonard married Sue Lee and she thought it might be a good
idea if he had a steady gig, rather than a series of part-time jobs.
Thus he walked into Mitch & Bill’s auto repair shop in Potomac
Village and there he stayed until he retired 44 years later (of course,
as he still goes to Mitch & Bill’s, it’s hard to tell
if he ever really retired). In so doing he transitioned from taking
care of Potomac’s horses and their riders, to taking care of Potomac’s
cars (and their owners)—while still taking care of their horses!
In 1953, Leonard started riding horses at Ardnave Farm for Mr. and Mrs.
Ernest (Peg) Smith, working for “Mrs. Smith” until she died.
An avid foxhunter and show rider, Peg Smith and Leonard were constantly
on the road or in the saddle, hunting with different packs and traveling
the hunter show circuit. “It was different in those days,”
explains Leonard. “They would hunt today,” he said, referring
to the horses, ”and show ‘em tomorrow.” It is hard
for today’s show hunter riders to believe that the original of
the “show hunter” was the field hunter who showed!
Over the years, Leonard worked with some of the best of the best in
the horse world. “Miss Bella,” recalls Leonard, referring
to Bella Hagner Martin, who had Whitestone Farm on River Road in the
1950s, “now she was a helluva horsewoman, mmm-hmmm. And Happy
Christmas. And Charlie Carrico! A helluva horseman. I worked for him
for a little while, showing conformation horses.”
The Smith children did not hunt, so when their mother Peg passed away,
the family bestowed upon Leonard all of their parents’ hunting
memorabilia, including ribbons and silver trophies, some of which Leonard
has lovingly displayed throughout his home (along with the plethora
of foxes that all foxhunters seem to be given as gifts!).
Sixty-five years in the hunt field begs the question: did he ever get
injured? Certainly a statistical anomaly, Leonard had only one injury
that needed tending: when his horse stepped into a hole, Leonard fell
and developed a hematoma that needed to be drained.
He fixed their cars, he fixed their drinks, he fixed their lives.
You are throwing a party for several hundred people. Every detail has
been planned out. Nothing has been overlooked. But until Leonard and
Johnny arrive, you are not calm. Something could go wrong. But once
they arrive, then you can relax. If anything goes wrong, they will fix
For 50 years no one planned a party in Potomac without first clearing
the date with Johnny and Leonard. Once they approved your date, then
you could begin planning the party. And once you gave them your guest
list, they would take care of the rest of the planning, as they knew
exactly who drank what, and purchased accordingly.
Soon Leonard migrated from behind the bar to the dance floor, eventually
entering regional dance contests, once taking first place for the merengue
and second place for the foxtrot! Without a doubt, he is the best dancer
at any hunt ball. And that is a fact, not an opinion, to which your
publisher can attest, as she is one of many ladies vying for a spot
on Leonard’s always-full dance card at any ball!
Births and deaths. Marriages and divorces. Crises big and small, Leonard
has been there through them all.
After retired Potomac MFH William Carroll died, Leonard became the driver
for Lyn Carroll (always “Mrs. Carroll” of The Surrey) and
escorted her to race meets and social functions.
“After my Bill died,” explained Sara Lee Greenhalgh, “Leonard
was just so kind; I don’t know what I would have done without
him,” referring to the death of her husband in 1994.
Likewise Sylvia Biggar. Both she and her sister Trisha leaned heavily
on Leonard and Sue Lee after Trisha’s husband’s untimely
death. When Trisha’s son was killed a year later in a freak accident
(he was working under a car that slipped off its blocks), again the
family leaned on Leonard and Sue Lee. Soon, the circle of ladies around
Sylvia were having lunch regularly for moral support, nicknaming themselves
the “Old Potomac” Lunch Bunch. When Trisha was diagnosed
with cancer, lunches ramped up to weekly get-togethers at Trisha’s
home, with Leonard in the middle, recalling childhood stories about
Trisha, Sylvia and their third sister Happy, and their father, the indomitable,
colorful Master of the Potomac Hounds, Sam Bogley. “We just laughed
and laughed and laughed,” recalls Vicki Crawford about those lunches
with Leonard at Trisha’s house.
After Johnny Jackson died, Vicki said, Leonard just seemed adrift, as
he had been so close to his uncle, and then after Sue Lee died, the
ladies made him a permanent addition to The Ladies’ Lunch Bunch!
“That was it,” said Vicki, “he was just permanently
one of the girls after that.”
Membership Application Rejected
It was 1995. Most of the people for whom Leonard had ridden horses had
passed away. With fewer horses to make in the hunt field, he had fewer
opportunities to hunt. Leonard had been hunting the Crawfords’
older hunters until one day he inquired about membership in PHC. Explains
Vicki: “The Hunt Committee considered his membership application—and
rejected it. Everyone voted to make him an Honorary Member, a unanimous
Leonard was promptly awarded his colors, and Mrs. Carroll quickly outfitted
him with hunting pinks and scarlet tails for evening. From party bartender
to party guest, from groom to honorary, Leonard’s transition was
complete. He was—and is—a Potomac institution.
“Take care of your family, your cars, your horses, your house
and life is just good.”
It is a simple life philosophy that has stood the test of time for Leonard.
In Leonard’s garage is a 1972 Ford Mercury that he purchased in
1978 from MFH William Carroll. “I know everything about this car,”
explained Leonard, “because I am the one that took care of it
when Mr. Carroll bought it new.” Mr. Carroll’s office was
just across the street from Mitch & Bill’s and just a few
doors away from Mrs. Carroll’s tack store. Mrs. Carroll was quoted
in the Almanac in 1987: “Anything you ask him to do, he is right
there into it, doing it, very promptly and very well.”
And that has been Leonard’s philosophy. He took care of his people.
He made their horses. He maintained their cars. He absorbed their cares,
and in return people care about Leonard. Five years ago, 22 members
of the club expressed their appreciation to Leonard by buying him a
new foxhunter, a chestnut horse named Blue.
Today you will find Leonard, impeccably tailored and turned out as always,
hunting Blue first flight; 2012 marks Leonard’s 65th season following
the Potomac Hounds. If he is not in the hunt field, you will find him
(still nattily attired) hanging with the boys at Mitch & Bill’s
or holding court in the Hunter’s Inn, always with a smile, always
with a kind word. How does he do it? “I just enjoy people,”
explained Leonard, in his quiet manner. “You got to enjoy life.
Life is too short. I believe in enjoying every day.”
Tally ho, Leonard!
Article in the October
1994 Almanac. Article and photo by staff writer Rachel Wallach.
Many thanks to “The Lunch Bunch” for allowing The
Equiery to experience lunch with Leonard and his ladies,
and for helping with this article. - C.B.K., publisher
Leonard with his current
horse Blue, who was bought for him by several members of the Potomac
Leonard on Nov 17,
2008 at the Centenial Meet held at Bucklodge Haven. Photo by C.M.
Leonard on Slik and
Jt. MFH Vicki Crawford
with Leonard on Nov 17, 2008 at the Centenial Meet held at Bucklodge
Haven. Photo by C.M. Lenkin
Leonard and his uncle Johnny Jackson
Cissy’s 60th birthday party, held at
Strathmore Hall in 1982
Leonard with Lyne Morgan who owned
The Surrey in Potomac
Many thanks to
“The Lunch Bunch” for allowing The Equiery
to experience lunch with Leonard and his ladies, and for helping
with this article. - C.B.K., publisher