John E. Leatherman, Brigadier General, Retired, age 72

of Hull

John E. Leatherman, Brigadier General, Retired, age 72

Brigadier General Retired John E. Leatherman, age 72, of Shepherd, Michigan and Hull, Massachusetts, died, Saturday, January 1, 2022 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was born January 25, 1949, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, the son of Elizabeth “Bettie” (Kurtzman) and Cleown Alva “CA” Leatherman. He married Mary Gracik on September 24, 1977 in Saginaw, Michigan.

John graduated from Shepherd High School in Shepherd, Michigan, Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, and the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After serving in Vietnam and a few year break in service, he joined the Michigan National Guard, where he served for twenty-five years, retiring in 2005 as the Assistant Division Commander Maneuver, 38th Infantry Division, Indianapolis, Indiana. For six years he commanded Michigan’s only armor unit, the 1st battalion of the 246th armor regiment. Military honors and awards include a Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster. He was also a member of the Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame and the Central Michigan University Reserve Officer Training Corps Hall of Fame.

Working at Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan from 1969 until 2004, John earned two Journeyman Certifications, Boilermaker and Instrumentation. He retired as an Instrument Man, but continued to work as a contractor in the same capacity until 2010. He taught instrumentation at Greater Michigan Construction Academy for a few years, but left that position to embark on the highlight of his working career – babysitting his granddaughter, Katherine.

John enjoyed travel and visited all fifty states, numerous countries and several continents. His favorite travel adventure was completing America’s Great Loop, a 6,000 mile circumnavigation of the eastern United Sates by boat. He enjoyed reading and had a lifelong interest in history, especially military history.

Survived by Mary, his wife of forty-four years; son Matthew of Shepherd, Michigan, and son Benjamin and daughter-in-law Sarah of Rockland, Massachusetts; beloved granddaughter Katherine; sisters Jackie Frayre (Paul Naugle) of Midland, MI and Janice (Dan) Sagle of St. Louis, MI; many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. John was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Joanne Ahlers.

Memorial Services will be conducted at the Camp Grayling Officer’s Club, 311 S. Howes Lake Road, Grayling, Michigan, on Saturday, July 9, from 2 – 5 p.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Interment at Arlington National Cemetery will take place at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations in John’s memory may be made to the Michigan Military Family Relief Fund, Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs, 3423 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Lansing, MI 48906 (,9665,7-402-100114-106682–,00.html), or U.S. Army Emergency Relief, 2530 Crystal Drive, Suite 13161, 13th Floor, Arlington, VA 22202 (


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  • It was indeed a privilege to meet your husband, when you and I worked together at the Middle School. Your love, and pride in each other is a beautiful thing. His incredible dedication to our country is amazing.
    Sending hugs your way and prayers for you and your family… I’m so sorry to hear of John’s passing. 🙏🏻💞🙏🏻

  • Mary: What a terrible way to say hi after losing track after too long. I am sorry about John’s passing and loss for you and your family. After losing Jan last year, I know the emptiness. If I can do anything let me know.


  • Dear Mary, Benjamin & Matthew,

    We are so sorry for your loss. John was a wonderful man, whom we both respected and adored. His energetic personality and his passion for life made any one who met him gravitate to him. We remember his friendly demeanor, and his contagious laugh. There was a time when Roy was thinking of leaving the National Guard, but he spoke with John about it, and because of John’s confidence in Roy, as well as his mentorship and respect, Roy stayed in the National Guard. We wish we had the words to give you comfort during this most difficult time. All of you are in our prayers.

    God Bless You All,
    Roy, Karla, Carolyn & Brandon, Christian, Caitlin, and Carson Wirtz

  • Dear Mary and family. I am sorry to hear of your loss. I am sending prayers for each of you. I always admired your loving companionship. I am thankful for our memories. Barb Rude

  • I served with him for many years, at different ranks, in the 1BN 246 ARMOR. He was a great Leader , an Officer and a Gentleman for all of us. R.I.P., Sir..

  • Dear Mary, Many years have passed since we taught together at the Middle school. .You must have been a great teem, both serving our country in different ways. I am saddened for you and your family for John must have been a remarkable man and a great example for your children. .May this chapter of life be blessed with courage., friendship and Love. Hugs!

  • Mary and Family,
    It was a great privilege to serve under Gen. Leatherman when he was the Company Commander of B Company 1st. Bn. 246 Armor and when he was The Bn. Commander of 1st.Bn.246th Armor. Chris and I are very sorry for the loss and you and your Family are in our prayers and thoughts.

  • Dear Mary,
    Lola and I are saddened to hear of John’s passing. I still remember his thoughtfulness
    in occasionally sending you flowers at school. Your relationship marked by respect and
    love for each other will remain special.
    Please accept our sincere condolences and prayers for John’s eternal Spirit.
    We wish you, your children and grandchildren God’s Blessings and Peace.

  • I Served with General Leatherman in the Armor Battalion for a number of years and he was a great mentor, Officer and Gentleman, he will be sorely missed, Our condolences go out to the family, God Bless

  • Dear Mary, Dianne and I were saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and classmate John. We last saw him at our USAWC 25th year reunion at Carlisle Barracks and missed you at the event. Please accept our deepest condolences to you and the entire Leatherman family. Please take care and keep in touch. Much Aloha from Hawaii, Gary and Dianne.

  • Mary I am so sorry to hear of John’s death. May you and your sons take pride and comfort in the life you all shared. You are all in my prayers and yes there are tanks and drivers in heaven.