Since Frostburg State University “Made a Big Difference” to Them, Leasures Create Scholarship to Ser Print
Community News - Community News
Written by FSU News and Media Services   
Friday, 05 August 2016 09:56

Judge Leasure on the bench 1 If not for Frostburg State University, Maryland’s longest-serving circuit court judge might never have practiced law in the first place, and he and his wife are hoping to pay that benefit forward with a new scholarship.

Judge Gary Leasure and his wife, Barbara Leasure, members of FSU classes of 1968 and ’69, respectively, grew up in Cumberland a year apart in age. While they knew each other, it wasn’t until college that their relationship blossomed. They married in 1969, right after Barbara graduated.

“Frostburg made a big difference for both myself and Barbara. It gave us an opportunity to go to a good college that we wouldn’t have had an opportunity to do before,” Gary Leasure said.

To give back to the institution that shaped their lives, the Leasures recently created the Judge Gary and Barbara Leasure Presidential Merit Scholarship, which supports full-time students from Allegany County with at least a 3.5 GPA.

Gary Leasure’s perspective from the bench gave him unique insight into difficulties facing his community. He and his wife hope their scholarship will help local students find success close to home.

“There are challenges in Allegany County that weren’t really there when we were growing up. So it just seemed to me, we have pride in this area, and whatever we can do to foster growth here is a good thing,” Leasure said.

When young Gary Leasure enrolled at FSU, he was uninterested in law. He found himself inspired by the subject during his Constitutional Law class. The professor, Dr. William A. Carroll, would later convince him to take the LSAT, the entry exam for law school.

“To my mind, he was a brilliant, insightful man who could make things come alive,” Leasure said. “He was very encouraging to me and to others. I took every course he offered starting when I was a sophomore. Through that process, I started to get interested in the law.”

That interest led him to the University of Maryland School of Law, where he earned his law degree in 1972. Out of law school, he clerked for a year for a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. He then practiced law in Allegany County in private practice, as an attorney for the city of Frostburg and as Allegany’s county attorney. In 1983, a seat opened on the Allegany County Circuit Court.

“I got appointed here when I was 37, which was very young,” he said. “For the better part of 33 years, I sat as a circuit court judge. That really became a focus of my life, other than my wife, kids and family, and I’ve enjoyed the devil out of it.”

He attributes his long judicial service partly to timing and luck. Maryland judges face mandatory retirement at age 70.

“I’m the longest-serving circuit court judge in the state of Maryland, which only happens if you start young and continue breathing long enough,” he said.

Leasure formally retired in November of 2015. The court of appeals subsequently designated him a recall judge, and he now hears cases in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties when judges are unavailable or have conflicts of interest.

Throughout Leasure’s long career, he remained connected to FSU. In the 1980s, he was a member of the FSU Foundation Board of Directors. In 1984, he was recognized with FSU’s Alumni Achievement Award. He also spent many evenings with FSU students. For two decades, he taught business law night courses at FSU.

“I’ve remained involved with the school and it’s a major part of my life,” he said. “The teaching part I really enjoyed.”

He only wished that Carroll had still been around to judge his teaching performance.

To support the Judge Gary and Barbara Leasure Presidential Merit Scholarship, visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation/ways-to-give or contact the FSU Foundation at 301-687-4161.

 
Please register or login to add your comments to this article.