PORTSMOUTH — The John E. Leasure Scholarship for the Arts has been established as an endowment fund at the Scioto Foundation by Dr. Timothy Angel as a memorial to a man who was widely known for his dedication to the arts in the Portsmouth area.
To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must be a graduate of a Scioto County, Ohio high school, show evidence of a grade point average of 3.2 on a scale of 4.0 and major in the arts or humanities. Students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees are eligible. The scholarship may be renewed.
The volunteer committee of the Scioto Foundation, with the assistance of Dr. Angel, will make annual selections on behalf of the SF Board of Governors.
Born in Portsmouth, Leasure was the son of the late Robert and Helen McCartney Leasure. He died on March 14, 2022 at the age of 67.
A member of the Portsmouth Area Arts Council for decades, Leasure served as the organization’s president, vice-president and various committee chairs over the years. He also served on the board of the Southern Ohio Performing Arts Association for many years, involved with both programming and promotion. Leasure was instrumental in Shawnee State University’s “Reach for the
Stars” campaign and the opening of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts in the mid-1990’s. He taught freshman composition, public speaking and script writing classes at SSU.
Leasure earned both a B.A. and a master’s degree in script writing from Ohio University and spent several years working on various productions in Hollywood.
Leasure was also known to the Portsmouth area as a popular columnist and reviewer for the Scioto Voice newspaper for several years. Along with his parents, he was a long-time member of Central Presbyterian Church and he served on the All Saints Episcopal Church Vestry in recent years.
Dr. Angel recalls that he first met Leasure in 2001 through politics. At the time Angel was running for the Portsmouth City Council and John became chairman of his election committee.
“John and I were like brothers, close friends and confidants,” said Dr. Angel. “We had great understanding in our relationship. I always tried to be there for him. He was an intelligent and respected individual and led an interesting life in the face of adversity.”
The two talked about how life would proceed for Leasure, but he went beyond life’s expectations even though Covid 19 greatly restricted him, Angel said.
Dr. Angel started the new Scholarship for the Arts as the best way to honor Leasure, he said. “John loved and respected all aspects of the arts and education. I didn’t want to limit the scholarship to one field. This is his legacy; he would have set up a scholarship if he had been able to.”
Portsmouth arts fans and followers will remember that In 2015 Leasure was honored with the Robert A. Fuller Award at PAAC’s “A Town and Its Artists: Awards for Artistic & Creative Excellence” evening ceremonies. At that time he was recognized for his many contributions to the arts.
Especially noted during the presentation were Leasure’s passion for the arts in many forms, his persistent advocacy for the arts and his faithful involvement in multiple community arts programs
over a number of years, in addition to his wise leadership and the depth and variety of his knowledge about the arts.
“John has a strong understanding of the importance of the arts to a community and to the power of the arts to enrich lives. One of his greatest strengths is his willingness to communicate that idea to everybody and to raise awareness of the value of the arts,” said the children of Robert A. Fuller and Ohio Arts Council board member Martha Burton who presented the prestigious award to Leasure that night.
Contributions to the John E. Leasure Scholarship for the Arts Fund from family, friends, arts supporters or the general public may be made at any time. Donations may be in the form of gifts of cash, securities or property.
Additional information about the John E. Leasure Scholarship for the Arts Fund or other planned giving opportunities at the Scioto Foundation may be obtained by contacting Patty Tennant, Program Office – Donor Services, or SF Executive Director Kim Cutlip at (740) 354-4612.