MAGNOLIA, Ark. – Southern Arkansas University golf coach Leonard Biddle passed away Friday in his home after a long battle with cancer. Biddle had just completed his seventh year as the men’s and women’s golf coach at SAU. He was 56 and born March 2, 1956 in Texarkana, Ark.
Biddle also served as the director for both the university’s wellness center in the Kathryn Smith-Brown HKR Annex and the intramural sports program until last year.
He arrived at Southern Arkansas in 1994 after a long military career in the U.S. Air Force, beginning work with the university physical plant before enrolling as a full-time student in 2000. Biddle was a four-year member of the Mulerider golf team, leading the team in scoring his final two seasons. He was selected three times (2002-04) to the prestigious Gulf South Conference All-Academic team and was a four-time (2001-04) member of the GSC Academic Honor Roll. Biddle received the Southern Arkansas Male Scholar-Athlete award in 2001-02, was named Outstanding Golf Athlete in 2003-04, while also being a nominee for the Auburn Smith award that year, and was honored with the Outstanding Student award for the School of Graduate Studies in 2004-05.
Biddle received his A.A.S. in fire science and technology in 2003 from Harold Washington (Ill.) College, his B.S.E. in health, kinesiology and recreation in 2004 and his M.Ed. in kinesiology in 2005, both from Southern Arkansas.
He took over the reins of the Mulerider golf program in 2005, overseeing the inclusion of the women’s team at the university that same year. Biddle also served as the official scorebook keeper for the SAU men’s and women’s basketball teams for a number of years and worked as a member of the chain gang at home football games.
During the summers from 2002-11 he was the instructor for SAU’s Continuing Education class for golf for adults and children in the community. Biddle also volunteered as a line crewmember for the Magnolia High School Panthers football team for three years.
Prior to coming to Southern Arkansas, Biddle was a retired Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force where he served as a professional fire fighter for 20 years, traveling in Pakistan, England, Greece, Turkey, Crete and Germany. He attended many rescue missions and initiated crew response for aircraft, structural and medical emergencies and was highly trained in rescue procedures.
He served eight years as Assistant Chief of Operations and acted as Fire Chief in his absence. Biddle was trained in Technical Services, as well as Safety and Supply Officer and Deputy Fire Chief.
Biddle earned the U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal in 1984, the U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal (first oak leaf cluster) in 1990, both the U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal and U.S. Air Force Meritorious Service Medal in 1994, and received many certificates of training diplomas during his established military career.
Biddle was an active member of the Magnolia Country Club since 1995 and enjoyed numerous friendships through golf competitions.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, the former Petra Sonnen of Bitburg, Germany; his brothers, Norman and wife, Barbara, of El Dorado, Everett and wife, Terri, of Magnolia, Tom and wife, Carolyn, of Magnolia; and his sister, Mary and husband Richie Butler, of Magnolia; a host of friends and family members in England and Germany; and numerous nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends in Arkansas, California and across the country.
Biddle is preceded in death by his parents, Leonard Biddle of Hope, and Lois Lorraine Larson of Ferndale, California.
A memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m., Monday at the First United Methodist Church in Magnolia.
In lieu of flowers and cards, memorial donations may be made to the Leonard Biddle Golf Endowment at Southern Arkansas University through the SAU Foundation, P.O. Box 9174, Magnolia, AR, 71754, or online at www.saufoundation.org by using the Make a Gift link.