As an alumnus, Jimmy Leitner's first loyalty was to The Citadel. But over the years, he also developed a strong affection for Winthrop University.
Leitner, who died Sunday at age 61 after a long battle with cancer, was involved in a variety of projects for Winthrop and took on campus improvement as something of a personal mission.
Leitner Construction Co., the commercial and light industrial business he took over from his father with his brother, Mac, built the Winthrop Ballpark on Eden Terrace near Winthrop Lake. Last year, the company also built the pedestal and installed the 3,000-pound Winthrop Eagle mascot on the campus. And Leitner Construction also was part of the team that built Winthrop's new Lois Rhame West Health, Physical Education and Wellness Center, which will open this month.
But the project that really seemed to capture Jimmy Leitner's imagination was the conversation wall -- now known appropriately as the "Leitner Wall," in front of the university's Kinard Building. Leitner Construction was handed the challenge of making the curved wall come to life in the summer of 2005, and it was a challenge the brothers took on with energy and enthusiasm.
The project required them to figure the complicated angles, choose an ideal height for the seating areas and the right materials to use. And, hardest of all, they had to figure out how to build a serpentine wall on sloping ground.
Jimmy, accompanied by his Boykin spaniel, Salley, spent a few hours each day for two months overseeing construction of the wall. It was a labor of love -- and, when it was finished, instead of sending the university a bill, Leitner Construction wrote a check to pay for it.
Around the city, Leitner Construction also was responsible for the Manchester Meadows soccer complex, the brick signs at Glencairn Garden and many other projects, large and small.
Leitner was a standout high school athlete, quarterbacking Chester High School to a state title in 1963. His skills on the football field also earned him a scholarship to The Citadel.
Leitner was a leader in his church, a 16-year-member and vice chairman of the South Carolina Coastal Council, and an active participant in community affairs. We join the community in mourning the loss of a good and generous friend.
Jimmy Leitner was personally involved in a variety of projects at Winthrop University.