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Leonard Kimball Firestone1,2

Male
b. 2 June 1907 or 10 June 1907, d. 24 December 1996


Father Harvey Samuel Firestone1,2 b. 20 December 1868, d. 7 February 1938
Mother Idabelle Smith1,2 b. 10 November 1873, d. 7 July 1954
Pop-up Pedigree

Family 1 Polly Curtis b. 12 June 1909, d. 10 January 1965
Marriage* 1932  Principal=Polly Curtis4 
Children  1. Lendy Firestone b. a 1933
  2. Kimball C. Firestone b. 26 Nov 1933
  3. Brooks Firestone b. c 1936

Family 2 Barbara K. (Heatley) Knickerbocker b. 8 May 1915, d. 17 December 1985
Marriage* 1966  CA, Principal=Barbara K. (Heatley) Knickerbocker4 

Family 3 Caroline Hudson
Marriage* 1987  Principal=Caroline Hudson4 

Biography*   Firestone, Leonard Kimball (1907-1996) — also known as Leonard K. Firestone — of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, Calif. Born in Akron, Summit County, Ohio, June 10, 1907. Son of Harvey Samuel Firestone and Idabelle (Smith) Firestone; married 1932 to Polly Curtis. Republican. Served in the U.S. Navy during World War II; delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 1944 (alternate), 1948, 1952 (alternate); U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, 1974-77. President, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company of California. Died in Pebble Beach, Monterey County, Calif., December3 
Birth* 2 June 1907 or 10 June 1907  Akron, Summit Co., OH, The Firestone History gives the date as 2 Jun 1907.1,2,4,5 
Census* 1910  1910 Federal Census, Ohio, Summit County, Akron Ward 2, ED: 128, Series: T624, Roll: 1233, Page: 137B, April 15
Sheet 13B, 46 Fir Street
(enumerated with father, Harvey S Firestone)
73, 244, 257, Firestone, Leonard R, Son, M, W, 2, S, , , , Ohio, Ohio, Minnesota, , , , None, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,1 
Census 1920  1920 Federal Census, Ohio, Summit County, Akron Township, Akron, Ward 8, ED: 231, Series: T625, Roll: 1438, Page: 259A, January 13
Sheet 9A, West Market Street
(enumerated with father, Harvey Firestone)
18, 243, 185, Firestone, Kimball K, Son, , , M, W, 12, S, , , , Yes, Yes, Yes, Ohio, , Ohio, , Michigan, , Yes, None, , ,6 
Census 1930  1930 Federal Census, Ohio, Summit County, Akron Township, Akron, Ward 8, ED: 77-146, Series: T626, Roll: 1880, Page: 261B, April 10
Sheet 19B, Block 39, West Market Road, Harbel Manor
(enumerated with father, Harvey S Firestone)
89, 202, 203, Firestone, Leonard K, Son, , , , No, M, W, 22, S, , Yes, Yes, Ohio, Ohio, Minnesota, , 59, , , , , Yes, None, , , , , , No, ,7 
Marriage* 1932  Principal=Polly Curtis4 
Marriage* 1966  CA, Principal=Barbara K. (Heatley) Knickerbocker4 
News/Obit 15 January 1966  News Item,
TIPSTER SLAIN IN FIRESTONE KIDNAP TRAP

Failed to Get Out of Line of Fire

Beverly Hills, Cal., Jan. 14 --One of the two gunmen slain last night in an attempt to kidnap Leonard K. Firestone, millionaire industrialist and civic leader, had informed police of the plot and was to have been spared, it was disclosed today.



George Henry Skalla, 25, had been working secretly with law enforcement officials for 11 days before he was wounded fatally in the hail of police bullets in Firestone's mansion.



Killed instantly was William Calvin Bailey, 44, who, police said, was the master mind of the Firestone abduction scheme, and whose career had embraced criminal offenses and legitimate business success.



Warned by Police



Firestone, 58, son of the late Harvey Firestone, who founded the tire and rubber company, was not in the house when the kidnap attempt was made. He had been warned by police and was in San Francisco. It was learned today that he is engaged to marry Mrs. Stuart Heatley, 45, a San Francisco society matron.



Three Beverly Hills policemen, Lt. B. L. Cork and Detective Sergeants J. F. Egger and J. R. Mourning, and a policewoman, Barbara Ezell, were hidden in the mansion. Bailey, wearing a rubber Halloween face mask, and Skalla rushed the doorway after posing as parcel post delivery men.



Bailey raised a pistol and aimed at the police. Two shotgun blasts and three pistol shots them cut down the two men. In their car were found gloves, rope, a blanket, ammunition, a rifle, and another mask.



Tells of Plot



Bailey's wallet contained a $100 bill, and written computations--200,000 times 10 equals 2,000,000, and 20 times 400,000 equals 8,000,000 -- indicating there might have been a demand of from 2 million to 8 million dollars ransom for Firestone.



Police said Skalla first contacted them by telephone Jan. 3 and told them he was in a kidnap plot and wanted to get out of it. Skalla was afraid Bailey would kill him if he [Skalla] didn't go thru with the crime.



On Jan. 6 Skalla informed police for the first time that Firestone was the intended victim. Firestone was advised of his peril immediately and left town, and police moved into the mansion.



Afraid of Partner



Police tried to convince Skalla he should back out of the scheme, but he was so terrified of Bailey that he insisted on carrying out his dual role. Detectives then instructed Skalla not to wear a mask so they would recognize him, and he was warned to drop to the floor as soon as he and Bailey entered the trap.



The plan to safeguard Skalla went astray as Bailey ran in, aiming his pistol. Skalla was caught in the police barrage and fell with Bailey. Neither Bailey nor Skalla fired a shot.



"Skalla was with us all the way," said Thad Brown, chief of Los Angeles detectives. "He knew the danger but he insisted on going thru with it."



Seek 2 More in Plot



Continuing their investigation today, police hinted that at least two other persons may have been involved in the plot. It was also learned that Bailey had rented two houses in the San Fernando valley, apparently to use as hideouts if Firestone was taken.



Police said Skalla was the leader of a group of youthful burglars and was awaiting sentence on first degree burglary and robbery charges.




Appeared in the Chicago Tribune (IL) - January 15, 1966


4 
Marriage* 1987  Principal=Caroline Hudson4 
SSN* 24 December 1996  Leonard K FIRESTONE
Birth Date: 10 Jun 1907
Death Date: 24 Dec 1996
Social Security Number: 298-03-7978
State or Territory Where Number Was Issued: Ohio
Death Residence Localities
ZIP Code: 92270
Localities: Rancho Mirage, Riverside, California5 
Death* 24 December 1996  Pebble Beach, Riverside Co., CA5,2 
News/Obit 25 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD FIRESTONE DEAD AT 89
LAST DIRECT LINK TO TIRE PIONEER TOLD
'WONDERFUL STORIES ABOUT AKRON'

The last direct link in the immediate family of the founder of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. has died.



Leonard K. Firestone, the last surviving child of tire-industry pioneer Harvey S. Firestone -- who in 1900 founded the company that helped make Akron the "rubber capital" -- died yesterday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



Mr. Firestone was among the five sons of Harvey and Idabelle Firestone who were involved in the rubber-products industry for most of their careers. A daughter who died young did not work in the industry.



Mr. Firestone died from complications of respiratory failure, said family spokesman Bob Troyer, now of Chicago and formerly of the Akron area.



Leonard Firestone, U.S. ambassador to Belgium under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, started working for the Firestone sales department after graduating from Princeton University in 1931, and was appointed sales manager at the Firestone headquarters in Akron in 1935.



"It's a real American story," said Brooks Firestone, one of Leonard's sons, a vintner in Santa Barbara, Calif., and California state representative, speaking of his father's life.



"He had wonderful stories about Akron -- the whole aura of the industry and the town. He loved the town," his son said, "and lived in an era when the town became the center of the rubber industry of the world, and that was an interesting period."



Leonard Firestone was elected a director of the company in 1939, and in 1941 was named president of Firestone Aviation Products Co., which was involved in the war production effort during World War II.



After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, he was placed on inactive duty by the Navy to become president and general manager of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California, which also was engaged in war production.



Throughout most of his Firestone years, he was based in Los Angeles, retiring as president of the California operation in 1970. He continued as a director of the parent company until his appointment as ambassador to Belgium by Nixon in 1974. He remained in the post until 1976 under Ford. Mr. Firestone had been a major Republican contributor over the years.



He returned to Firestone's board of directors from 1980 until 1983.



Besides also knowing Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Nixon and Ford, Mr. Firestone enjoyed his associations and friendships with celebrities after he moved to California, Brooks Firestone said. Among them were Hollywood stars June Allyson, Dick Powell, Randolph Scott, Edgar Bergen, Jimmy Stewart and Freeman Gosden, who was Amos and Kingfish on the Amos and Andy radio show.



"These folks would come to our house; it was just a casual thing," Brooks Firestone said. His father met them at social and charitable events, and enjoyed interesting, witty camaraderie, he said.



"He was greatly given to humor," the son said, "and used it in everything from business and diplomacy to his friendships with others; he had a very serious light touch."



Leonard Firestone often visited the Akron area to see his brother Raymond, who died in 1994, and to attend corporate board meetings before the Firestone family divested itself of its stock in the company. That divestiture was completed before the company, now called Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., was sold to Japanese interests in 1988. The company headquarters was moved to Chicago in 1987, and is now based in Nashville, Tenn.



All five of the Firestone brothers, sons of Harvey Firestone, had been involved in the rubber-products industry. No immediate descendants of Harvey Firestone remain involved in the rubber industry, Troyer said.



Harvey Firestone Jr. and Raymond C. Firestone had served as chairman and chief executive officer, respectively, of Firestone Tire; Roger Firestone had been president of the Firestone Plastics Co. in Pottstown, Pa.; and Russell Firestone had been a member of the board of directors, as had all the brothers.



Only Raymond, Russell and Harvey Firestone Jr. stayed in the Akron area throughout their lifetimes.



Troyer said the Firestone Foundation had been responsible for various projects in the Akron area, but he was not aware of Leonard Firestone, who often donated to civic causes elsewhere, having made any individual grants to Akron-area institutions.



Leonard Firestone, whose principal residence was in Rancho Mirage, Calif., helped his brother Raymond complete a relocation of their father's boyhood home and nearby farm buildings from Columbiana County to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., in 1985. More than 1 million visitors annually tour the workings of the 19th century "Firestone Farmstead" at the museum.



Mr. Firestone attended Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., and captained the polo team his last two years at Princeton.



He was active in retirement, said a daughter-in-law, Kate Firestone, wife of Brooks Firestone.



"He was instrumental in development of the Betty Ford Center" for recovering alcoholics in Palm Springs, Calif., Troyer said.



"He often went to the center to give lectures to the residents," his daughter-in-law said, noting that as a recovered alcoholic, he placed importance on such voluntary work.



He was a major benefactor of efforts nationally to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council on Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center.



He also had been involved in helping to build the St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif., she said. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 4 at the church.



"His religion was important to him," his daughter-in-law said, adding that the Firestone family had also established the Idabelle Chapel at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron in memory of their mother.



"For a man his age, until this fall he got around very well," Troyer said. "He was a golfer, and enjoyed life and being with people."



Mr. Firestone was a past chairman of the board of trustees of the University of Southern California and past president of the World Affairs Council. He was a former member of the Beverly Hills City Council and held local and national offices for the Boy Scouts of America.



He is survived by wife Caroline Hudson Firestone; sons Brooks of California and Kimball of Middletown, Md.; daughter Lendy Brown of Paris, Ky.; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. He previously lost two wifes to death.



There will be a cremation and a private interment in the Firestone family section of the Columbiana Cemetery in Ohio.



Memorials may be made to ABC Recovery Center Inc., 45-374 Palm St., Indio, Calif. 92201.



Arrangements were handled by Mission Mortuary of Monterey, Calif.




Appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal (OH) - December 25, 1996


4 
News/Obit* 25 December 1996  Obituary,
Leonard Firestone, Tire Executive, Dies

Leonard K. Firestone, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



A family spokesman said Firestone died of complications from respiratory failure.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears the family name, Leonard K. Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Richard Nixon, to whom the industrialist was a close advisor and financial supporter.



The nomination raised the hackles of Nixon's opponents in Congress, who wanted to know why large donors such as Firestone were being named to ambassadorships.



Gerald Warren, then White House deputy press secretary, shrugged off the clamor, saying Firestone was a distinguished American, adding that he didn't know how much the industrialist had given to Nixon's reelection campaign in 1972.



According to General Accounting Office figures, Firestone gave $15,000 to Nixon's reelection effort.



Firestone was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was reappointed by President Gerald R. Ford. He served as ambassador to Belgium until December 1976, but the lifelong Republican drew more scrutiny because of his political connections.



His financial contributions to the presidential efforts of Ford, his next-door neighbor in Rancho Mirage; Ronald Reagan, and former Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. drew notice from reporters, but little resulted from it.



Firestone, who was an enthusiastic supporter of Republican Wendell Wilkie's 1940 presidential campaign, first attracted national political notice in the 1960s as a member of Ronald Reagan's original "kitchen cabinet" of close friends and advisors when he was governor of California.



After Nixon resigned from the presidency, Firestone stayed in touch with him, serving as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, which was formed by several Nixon friends to establish a presidential library. The foundation's early troubles attracted unfavorable publicity, but Firestone never wavered in his belief that helping out friends was the right thing to do.



His son, Brooks, carries on Leonard Firestone's enthusiasm for Republican politics. Brooks Firestone is a second-term Republican state assemblyman, representing portions of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.



But the elder Firestone didn't always support Republicans.



"My father was a campaign worker for [former Los Angeles Mayor and Democrat] Tom Bradley," Brooks Firestone said.



And former U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston ballyhooed Firestone's endorsement when the lawmaker ran for a third term in 1980 against Republican anti-tax crusader Paul Gann.



Firestone even tried his hand at elective office, winning election to the Beverly Hills City Council in the late 1940s.



While some may have grumbled at his political contributions, few could argue with Firestone's generosity when it came to civic and social causes.



He was a major benefactor of national efforts to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council of Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage.



He was a past chairman of the governing Board of Trustees at USC and a past president of the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles. He was a member of the national executive board of Boy Scouts of America.



His generous contributions to Pepperdine University led to the construction of an all-purpose gymnasium, Firestone Fieldhouse, at the Malibu campus.



He also dabbled in sports. He was a minority shareholder in Gene Autry's successful effort to bring a second major league baseball team, the Angels, to Los Angeles in 1961.



When he ventured to Wrigley Field in the team's first season, 1961, he was well enough known around Los Angeles to receive some plaudits from the fans. But even he knew he was no match for the whoops and hollers that were reserved for Autry, the signing cowboy who was the team's majority owner.



As a tribute to his family, he and his late brother Raymond C. Firestone completed a relocation of their father's boyhood home and farm buildings from Columbiana, Ohio, to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich.



Born on June 10, 1907, Firestone was the third son of Harvey and Idabelle Firestone. He graduated from Princeton in 1931 and later joined the sales department of his father's tire company.



In 1935, he was appointed sales manager at Firestone headquarters in Akron, Ohio. He was elected a director of the company in 1939 and the president of the Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941.



He was a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. After leaving active duty, he became president and general manager of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California. Based in Los Angeles, he retired as president of Firestone's California operations in 1970, while continuing as a director of the parent company until his appointment as ambassador to Belgium.



He returned to Firestone's board of directors in 1980 and served until 1983.



Firestone married three times. He was married in 1932 to Polly Curtis of South Orange, N.J., who died in 1965. A year after her death, he married Barbara K. Heatley of San Francisco. She passed away in 1985.



In 1987, he married Caroline Hudson, who survives him.



In addition to his wife and son Brooks, Firestone is survived by son Kimball of Middletown Md.; daughter Lendy Brown of Paris, Ky.; 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.



A memorial service will be held Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert.



The family suggests that contributions can be made to ABC Recovery Center, 45-374 Palm St., Indio, CA 92201.




Appeared in the Los Angeles Times (CA) - December 25, 1996


4 
News/Obit 25 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD FIRESTONE, TIRE MAGNATE, PHILANTHROPIST

SAN FRANCISCO - Leonard K. Firestone, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died yesterday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



A family spokesman said Mr. Firestone died from complications of respiratory failure.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears his name, Mr. Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Nixon, to whom the industrialist was a close adviser and financial supporter.



Mr. Firestone, who served in the Navy in World War II, first attracted national political notice in the 1960s as a member of California Gov. Ronald Reagan's original "kitchen cabinet" of close friends and advisers.



Mr. Firestone was a major benefactor of national efforts to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council of Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.




Appeared in The Seattle Times, (WA) - December 25, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
Leonard K. Firestone, tire heir, Nixon adviser

Leonard K. Firestone, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



A family spokesman said Mr. Firestone died from complications of respiratory failure.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears his name, Leonard K. Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Nixon, to whom the industrialist was a close adviser and financial supporter.



The nomination raised the hackles of Nixon's opponents in Congress, who wanted to know why large presidential donors like Mr. Firestone were being named to ambassadorships.



Mr. Firestone was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was reappointed by President Ford. He served as ambassador to Belgium until December 1976.



After Nixon resigned from the presidency, Mr. Firestone stayed in touch with him, serving as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, which was formed by several Nixon friends to establish a presidential library.



Mr. Firestone was known for his generosity when it came to civic and social causes. He was a major benefactor of national efforts to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council of Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.



His generous contributions to Pepperdine University led to the construction of an all-purpose gymnasium, Firestone Fieldhouse, at the Malibu campus.



Starting in the sales department of his father's tire company in the early 1930s, Mr. Firestone quickly moved up the corporate ladder, becoming a director of the company in 1939 and the president of the Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941.




Appeared in the St. Petersburg Times (FL) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE

Firestone, a tire magnate and a former ambassador to Belgium, died Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. at age 89. His father, Harvey S. Firestone, founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1914. The younger Firestone became a company director in 1939 and president of the Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and was placed on inactive duty in 1943 to become president of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California. Firestone retired as president of Firestone's California operations in 1970 and served as ambassador to Belgium from 1974-76.




Appeared in The Orlando Sentinel, (FL) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
Leonard Firestone, 89

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Leonard K. Firestone, a former ambassador to Belgium and retired executive of the tire company founded by his father Harvey S. Firestone, died Tuesday from respiratory failure. He was 89.



Mr. Firestone was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1907, seven years after his father founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Leonard Kimball Firestone was the last survivor of Harvey and Idabelle Firestone's six children.




Appeared in The Augusta Chronicle, (GA) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE, 89, TIRE MAGNATE, ENVOY

Leonard K. Firestone, 89, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died from complications of respiratory failure Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears his name, Leonard Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Richard M. Nixon, to whom the industrialist was a close adviser and financial supporter. He was reappointed by President Gerald R. Ford and served as ambassador until December 1976.



Mr. Firestone first attracted national political notice in the 1960s as a member of Ronald Reagan's original ''kitchen cabinet'' of close friends and advisers when Reagan was governor of California.



After Nixon resigned from the presidency, Mr. Firestone stayed in touch with him, serving as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, which was formed to establish a presidential library.



Mr. Firestone was a major benefactor of national efforts to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council of Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.



As a tribute to his family, he and his late brother Raymond C. Firestone completed a relocation of their father's boyhood home and farm buildings from Columbiana, Ohio, to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich. About one million visitors annually tour the workings of the ''Firestone Farmstead.''



Mr. Firestone graduated in 1931 from Princeton University. He later joined the sales department of his father's tire company.



In 1935, he was appointed sales manager at Firestone headquarters in Akron, Ohio. He was elected a director of the company in 1939 and president of the Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941.



He was a Navy lieutenant during World War II. After leaving active duty, he became president and general manager of Firestone Tire & Rubber Company of California. He retired as president of Firestone's California operations in 1970.



He is survived by his third wife, Caroline; two sons; a daughter; 10 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.




Appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, (PA) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE, TIRE MAGNATE, CONFIDANT OF U.S. PRESIDENTS, DIES

Leonard K. Firestone, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



A family spokesman said Firestone died of complications of respiratory failure.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears his name, Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Richard M. Nixon. The nomination raised the hackles of Nixon's opponents in Congress, who wanted to know why large presidential donors like Firestone were being named to ambassadorships.



According to General Accounting Offices figures, Firestone gave $15,000 to Nixon's re-election effort. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was reappointed by President Gerald R. Ford. He served as ambassador to Belgium until December 1976.





Appeared in The Buffalo News, (NY) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE TIRE HEIR, ENVOY, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER

Leonard K. Firestone, the tire magnate and philanthropist who was a confidant of several U.S. presidents, died Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



A family spokesman said Mr. Firestone died from complications of respiratory failure.



The last surviving child of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the tire company that bears his name, Leonard K. Firestone was named U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1974 by President Richard M. Nixon, to whom the industrialist was an close adviser and financial supporter.



The nomination raised the hackles of Nixon's opponents in Congress, who wanted to know why large presidential donors like Mr. Firestone were being named to ambassadorships.



Then White House Deputy Press Secretary Gerald Warren shrugged off the clamor, saying Mr. Firestone was a distinguished American, adding he didn't know how much the industrialist had given to Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972.



According to General Accounting Offices figures, Mr. Firestone gave $15,000 to Nixon's re-election effort.



Mr. Firestone was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was reappointed by President Gerald Ford. He served as ambassador to Belgium until December 1976.



Mr. Firestone, who was energized by Republican Wendell Wilkie's 1940 presidential campaign, first attracted national political notice in the 1960s as a member of Ronald Reagan's original ''kitchen Cabinet'' of close friends and advisers when he was governor of California.



After Nixon resigned from the presidency, Mr. Firestone stayed in touch with him, serving as president of the Richard Nixon Foundation, which was formed by several Nixon friends to establish a presidential library.



Mr. Firestone was known for his generosity when it came to civic and social causes.



He was a major benefactor of national efforts to curb alcohol abuse. He was a director of the National Council of Alcoholism and the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.



He was a past chairman of the governing board of trustees at University of Southern California and a past president of the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles. He was a member of the national executive board of Boy Scouts of America.



His generous contributions to Pepperdine University led to the construction of an all-purpose gymnasium, Firestone Fieldhouse, at the Malibu campus.



He also dabbled in sports. He was a minority shareholder in Gene Autry's successful effort that brought a second professional baseball team, the Angels, to Los Angeles in 1961.



As a tribute to his family, he and his brother Raymond C. Firestone completed a relocation of their father's boyhood home and farm buildings from Columbiana, Ohio, to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich.



An estimated 1 million visitors annually tour the workings of the ''Firestone Farmstead.''



Born on June 10, 1907, Mr. Firestone was the third son of Harvey and Idabelle Firestone. He graduated from Princeton in 1931 and later joined the sales department of his father's tire company.



In 1935, he was appointed sales manager at Firestone headquarters in Akron, Ohio. He was elected a director of the company in 1939 and the president of the Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941.



He was a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. After leaving active duty, he became president and general manager of the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California. Based in Los Angeles, he retired as president of Firestone's California operations in 1970, while continuing as a director of the parent company until his appointment as ambassador to Belgium.



He returned to Firestone's board of directors in 1980 and served until 1983.



Mr. Firestone married three times. He was married in 1932 to Polly Curtis of South Orange, N.J., who died in 1965. A year later, he wed Barbara K. Heatley of San Francisco. She died in 1985.



In 1987, he married Caroline Hudson, who survives him.



In addition to his wife and son Brooks, Mr. Firestone is survived by a son, Kimball of Middletown Md.; a daughter, Lendy Brown of Paris, Ky.; 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.




Appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE -- Ambassador and Businessman

Leonard Kimball Firestone, 89, a retired executive of the tire company founded by his father, Harvey S. Firestone, who also served as ambassador to Belgium from 1974 to 1976, died of respiratory failure Dec. 24 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.



He was born in Akron, Ohio, seven years after his father founded Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Mr. Firestone was the last survivor of Harvey and Idabelle Firestone's six children.



He worked in the sales department at the family-owned tire company and held sales positions in Florida, California and Ohio. He became a company director in 1939 and president of Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. Two years later, he became president of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California. He retired in 1970.




Appeared in The Washington Post, (DC) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 26 December 1996  Obituary,

Leonard K. Firestone, 89, a tire magnate and a former ambassador to Belgium, died of complications of respiratory failure Tuesday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Mr. Firestone became a director of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., founded by his father, Harvey S. Firestone, in 1939 and president of Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II, retired as president of Firestone's California operations in 1970 and was ambassador to Belgium from 1974 to 1976.




Appeared in The Sun, (Baltimore, MD) - December 26, 1996


4 
News/Obit 28 December 1996  Obituary,
Leonard Firestone, 89, Executive Of Tire Company and U.S. Envoy

Leonard Kimball Firestone, a former United States Ambassador to Belgium, board member of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and longtime friend of former Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, died on Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



Mr. Firestone was the last of six children of Harvey S. Firestone, who founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1900. Leonard Firestone joined the company after graduating from Princeton University in 1931 and worked there for 39 years until he retired, in 1970, as president of the California division.



He served on the board from 1939 through 1974, relinquished his seat during his ambassadorship and returned for three years beginning in 1980. His brother Raymond was chairman of the corporation until 1976. The company was acquired by the Bridgestone Corporation in 1988.



Leonard Firestone had a long association with many Presidents, from golfing with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 to lending a condominium to President Clinton in 1993 for a family vacation. Mr. Nixon appointed him Ambassador to Belgium in 1974, a post he held until 1976. Mr. Firestone was one of several Nixon friends who worked to establish the Richard M. Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif.



Mr. Ford was also a friend and golfing partner of Mr. Firestone. The Fords built a home next to the Firestone home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The former President also invested with Mr. Firestone in two Colorado radio stations.



Mr. Firestone was a longtime supporter of several Republican candidates, including Ronald Reagan when he was Governor of California, and donated more than $100,000 to the Republican National Committee in 1988.



Mr. Firestone, who was born in Akron, Ohio, became president of the Firestone Aviation Products Company in 1941. In World War II he headed the California division, which was producing tires and other rubber goods for the war effort.



After he retired as president of the division, he became involved in other business interests, including real estate, the Firestone Winery in Los Olivos, Calif., and the communications industry.



He is survived by his third wife, Caroline Hudson Firestone, and a daughter and two sons by his first wife, Polly Curtis Firestone, who died in 1965. His second wife, Barbara K. Heatley, died in 1985. His daughter is Lendy Brown of Paris, Ky., and his sons are Kimball C. Firestone of Middletown, Md., and A. Brooks Firestone of Los Olivos, Calif. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.




Appeared in The New York Times, (NY) - December 28, 1996


4 
News/Obit 29 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD K. FIRESTONE, 89, EXECUTIVE, EX-AMBASSADOR

Leonard Kimball Firestone, a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, board member of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and longtime friend of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, died on Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



Mr. Firestone was the last of six children of Harvey Firestone, who founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1900. Mr. Firestone joined the company after graduating from Princeton University in 1931 and worked there for 39 years until he retired, in 1970, as president of the California division.



He served on the board from 1939 through 1974, relinquished his seat during his ambassadorship and returned for three years beginning in 1980. His brother Raymond was chairman of the corporation until 1976. The company was acquired by Bridgestone Corp. in 1988.



Mr. Firestone had a long association with many presidents, from golfing with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 to lending a condominium to President Clinton in 1993 for a family vacation. Nixon appointed him ambassador to Belgium in 1974, a post he held until 1976. Mr. Firestone was one of several Nixon friends who worked to establish the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, Calif.



Ford was also a friend and golfing partner of Mr. Firestone. The Fords built a home next to the Firestone home in Rancho Mirage, Calif.



Mr. Firestone was a longtime supporter of several Republican candidates, including Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California.



Mr. Firestone, who was born in Akron, Ohio, became president of Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. In World War II he headed the California division, which was producing tires and other rubber goods for the war effort.




Appeared in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) - December 29, 1996


4 
News/Obit 29 December 1996  Obituary,
LEONARD FIRESTONE, EX-AMBASSADOR

Leonard Kimball Firestone, a former U.S. ambassador to Belgium, board member of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and longtime friend of Presidents Nixon and Ford, died Tuesday at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif. He was 89.



Firestone was the last of six children of Harvey Firestone, who founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. in 1900. Leonard Firestone joined the company after graduating from Princeton University in 1931 and worked there for 39 years until he retired, in 1970, as president of the California division.



He served on the board from 1939 through 1974, relinquished his seat during his ambassadorship and returned for three years beginning in 1980. His brother Raymond was chairman of the corporation until 1976. The company was acquired by Bridgestone Corp. in 1988.



Leonard Firestone had a long association with many presidents, from golfing with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 to lending a condominium to President Clinton in 1993 for a family vacation. Nixon appointed him ambassador to Belgium in 1974, a post he held until 1976. Firestone was one of several Nixon friends who worked to establish the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.



Ford was also a friend and golfing partner of Firestone. The Fords built a home next to the Firestone home in Rancho Mirage. The former president also invested with Firestone in two Colorado radio stations.



Firestone was a longtime supporter of several Republican candidates, including Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California, and donated more than $100,000 to the Republican National Committee in 1988.



Firestone, who was born in Akron, Ohio, became president of Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. In World War II, he headed the California division, which was producing tires and other rubber goods for the war effort.



After he retired as president of the division, he became involved in other business interests, including real estate, the Firestone Winery in Los Olivos, Calif., and the communications industry.



He is survived by his third wife, Caroline Hudson Firestone, and a daughter and two sons by his first wife, Polly Curtis Firestone, who died in 1965. His second wife, Barbara Heatley, died in 1985. His daughter is Lendy Brown of Paris, Ky., and his sons are Kimball Firestone of Middletown, Md., and Brooks Firestone of Los Olivos. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.




Appeared in the Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) - December 29, 1996


4 
News/Obit 19 March 1997  Memorial,
Leonard K. Firestone '31

Leonard Firestone died at home in Pebble Beach, Calif., Dec. 24, 1996, of respiratory failure. He was 89. At The Hill School, where he prepared, and at Princeton, he was active in golf and polo. Upon graduation he was employed in sales positions by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., founded by his father in Akron, Ohio. In 1932, he married Polly Curtis, by whom he had three children. Polly died in 1965. In 1935, Len was appointed sales manager and in 1939 became a director of Firestone. He was named president of Firestone Aviation Products Co. in 1941. He was commissioned in the Navy as a lieutenant, but was assigned to inactive status to become president of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. of California in 1943. Leonard was appointed U. S. ambassador to Belgium by Pres. Nixon and was reappointed by Pres. Ford. He was a generous contributor to charities and served as president of the trustees of the U. of Southern California and president of the World Affairs Council of L. A. He was a board member of several organizations. He is survived by his second wife, Caroline Hudson Firestone, his sons, A. Brooks '58 (now a member of the California State Assembly) and Kimball, a daughter, Lendy Brown, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. To them, the class extends its condolences.



The Class of 1931





Appeared in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, 19 Mar 1997


 

Citations
  1. [S73] 1910 U.S. Federal Census , 1910 U.S. Federal Census.
  2. [S85] Firestone Genealogy - 1957, George Ely Russell.
  3. [S401] Political Graveyard, online http://politicalgraveyard.com/index.html.
  4. [S323] News Bank.
  5. [S129] SSDI Death Index,.
  6. [S247] 1920 U.S. Federal Census , 1920 U.S. Federal Census.
  7. [S248] 1930 U.S. Federal Census , 1930 U.S. Federal Census.


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