McLeod leaves legacy of love for Liberty Hill
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The only thing that overshadowed Wendell McLeod’s love for Liberty Hill was his love for his family. In many respects, the community was always an extended version of that family.
“I think it was just his bigger family,” his daughter, Debra Brown, said of her dad’s love of Liberty Hill. “I think he extended the love of his family on to the people of the community.”
McLeod passed away Feb. 15, leaving a mark on the community he chose to be a part of all his life.
“Several times as the town grew bigger and things changed he talked about getting out and going somewhere where it was still an old time little town,” Brown said, adding that he always chose to stay.
But for McLeod, staying meant staying deeply involved. And one of those ways to be involved was serving on the city council.
“Every time, (Mom) tried talking him out of running for city council again,” she said. “But he was like, ‘Well, I want to see this through. There’s some things I want to stand up for.’ He wanted to make sure that he took care of things.”
Those who served with him on the council saw McLeod’s love for the community up close.
“His biggest contribution to this community is his heart and his passion,” said Mayor Rick Hall. “He loved Liberty Hill more than anybody else probably could and his drive to help everyone in Liberty Hill was the biggest thing I always saw.”
An outspoken member of the Council, McLeod was always ready and willing to speak up for everyone.
“He was always for the people who were struggling. He was always for people like himself who worked all their life and were very conservative in the approach they took to spending public funds,” said City Administrator Greg Boatright. “He was really aware of the way the public funds were dispersed and he was always looking out for people who were on a fixed income. That was a big deal to them because he understood there were people in our community who just couldn’t pay more.”
McLeod’s one wish as a council member was to hear more from the community he served, to make sure what it was the voters wanted was what the council did.
“He would just love to talk to people in the community,” Brown said. “He wanted to know what the community wanted. Nothing was his agenda. He talked to people, and really wanted to know what they wanted even if it wasn’t what he wanted.”
A man who touched nearly every corner of life in Liberty Hill during his 79 years, McLeod played key roles in youth sports leagues, the volunteer fire department, and spent 40 years with the Liberty Hill Water Supply Corporation. He also served on the School Board at one time and was elected to multiple terms on the City Council.
“He was a major player in the water system and it wasn’t just a job to him,” Brown said. “It was part of his life, and when the water system needed to expand he was part of the building of new wells.”
McLeod’s knowledge of the water system in Liberty Hill has been called on regularly, even as it grows under the City today.
“Wendell knew where everything was at here in Liberty Hill,” Hall said. “He knew where all the water lines were. We depended a lot on him to help us map that so we would have something to reference. I can remember three or four times since I’ve been Mayor driving around with Wendell and asking him about different lines and where things were. We’d start digging and it would be exactly where he said.”
But what McLeod contributed was much deeper than a photographic memory of where water pipes were throughout town.
“Wendell would respond to people who were really dependent on him to help them with water problems, but if there were other things he saw that needed to be done he would help people in the community who had a need,” Boatright said. “It went a lot deeper than him just being the person who kept the water on. He was the type of person who had a lot of compassion when he saw people that needed help. That’s what I will remember most about him is just his ability to communicate and recognize someone in need and be willing to help and be involved in the community.”
Just as he took care of the community, Brown said he took care of his family, never missing an opportunity to provide all they truly needed.
“He took care of us,” Brown said. “We were not a high-class family, but he always made sure that we had everything that we needed. We built a bike together, and we never had brand new fancy bikes or anything, but he took some old pieces of bicycles and built one for me, and we painted it pink and to me it was the most beautiful bike ever.”
Brown said the family would like to express its sincerest appreciation for the outpouring of love received with the passing of their father.
“It is very easy to see why our dad loved Liberty Hill and was proud to live in and serve this community,” she said.
Born in 1939 in Florence, Mcleod and his wife, Mary Ann, were married 53 years. For Brown, her father has left a legacy the rest of the family will have to work hard to match.
“He was a great example of what a husband and a dad should be,” she said. “We have to just continue to do the things he taught us. Honestly, I don’t know, it will be hard to walk in his footsteps. We will try to take care of my mom the way he did and try to be more like him in the things that we do.”