Mary Delach Leonard

Work/Life Reporter

Mary Delach Leonard is a veteran journalist who joined St. Louis Public Radio in December 2013 when it merged with the St. Louis Beacon. She had been a reporter for the Beacon since April 2008 -- after a 17-year career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where she was a reporter and an editor in the features section. Her work has been cited for awards by such organizations as the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, the Missouri Press Association and the Illinois Press Association. In 2010, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis honored her with a Spirit of Justice Award in recognition of her work on the housing crisis. Leonard began her newspaper career at the Belleville News-Democrat (in Illinois) after earning a degree in mass communications from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, where she now serves as an adjunct faculty member. She is partial to pomeranians and Cardinals.

Ways to Connect

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

With the home opener one week away, Cardinals fans should be prepared for ramped-up security at Busch Stadium and allow extra time to walk through new metal detectors at all gates.

Unlike at the airport, fans won’t have to take off their shoes and belts. But they will have to put their keys, cell phones and metal objects on tables when they pass through the detectors, says Joe Abernathy, vice president of stadium operations.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The expert Easter egg fillers at Canterbury Enterprises in Shrewsbury packed 5.5 million plastic eggs with candy and toys this year — a new record for the nonprofit sheltered workshop that employs about 100 people with disabilities.

Maren Leonard | For St. Louis Public Radio

The door swings open to the production floor of Bissinger’s new candy factory on the St. Louis riverfront, and . . . oh, my . . .


Photo courtesy Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

After word spread that the cash-strapped Cahokia Mounds Museum Society was crowdfunding to raise $7,500 to print brochures for the storied Illinois landmark -- the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico -- donations poured in from down the road, around the globe and from a mysterious alternate reality.

Photo courtesy Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Faced with declining revenue, the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society has turned to crowdfunding to raise $7,500 to print the informational brochures that are currently handed out at the world-renowned landmark, which is the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico. The goal for the brochures was reached shortly after noon on Feb. 25 but has been fluctuating.

The historic Goldenrod Showboat is currently docked near Kampsville, Ill.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

A volunteer group says it’s making slow but steady progress in its effort to restore the historic Goldenrod Showboat for an eventual return to the St. Louis riverfront.

Photograph courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / St. Louis District

Two years after the Great Flood of 1927 devastated the lower Mississippi River Valley, blues singers Kansas Joe McCoy and Lizzie “Memphis Minnie” Douglas shared the pain in their classic “When The Levee Breaks:”

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

And the water gonna come in, have no place to stay ...

Michael "Sonny" Trimble directs the archives and artifacts collection of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

These days, Marine veteran Ryan Schatz works a quiet job, painstakingly photographing Native American arrowheads and shards of ceramic pottery unearthed decades ago during construction projects by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Roger Denly, 43, is still learning the fine points of bowling while seated in a wheelchair, but last Thursday afternoon he was enjoying "tenpin therapy" at the little six-lane bowling alley at the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center.

“It’s freedom. It gets me out doing something I enjoy,’’ said Denly, an Air Force veteran who lives in Farmington, Iowa.

A little St. Louis nonprofit continues to plug away at its goal of creating a memorial to about 150 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen from Missouri who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Five months after the news broke that the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville is for sale, we figured it was time to ketchup with the story.

So far, there are no buyers for the 70-foot-tall water tank perched atop a 100-foot-tall tower, says Mike “Big Tomato” Gassmann of the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group, which formed in the 1990s to raise money to repair and paint the icon.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The holidays are the busy season at Angel Baked Cookies, a nonprofit that hires teenagers from north St. Louis year-round to make chocolate chip, sugar and oatmeal raisin cookies.


While digging through the consumer fraud warnings piling up in our inbox, we’ve concluded that scams are like slick sidewalks in the wintertime: At first glance, they seem so safe.

* The Most Shameful: Re-Scamming The Scammed

Pamela Peters volunteers at the "I Love Ferguson" store.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Pamela Peters, 66, was busy Tuesday afternoon helping customers at the “I Love Ferguson” store on South Florissant Road. The little storefront shop is just down the street from the city’s police department where demonstrators gather to protest the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

A truck from the St. Louis Area Food Bank makes a delivery at a rural southern Illinois church that was holding a food fair for low-income residents.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2010 File photo
  • Cans of soup.
  • Diapers.
  • Cash to buy gas to keep the trucks running.

The holiday wish list for St. Louis agencies that assist the hungry is long and never-ending because what comes in, soon goes out -- and the shelves need to be filled again.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

People often call Todd Nicely a hero, but the 30-year-old Marine combat veteran would prefer that they didn’t.

Nicely, who lost his arms and legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan four years ago, says the heroes of the 13-year war on terror are the 6,841 U.S. service members who have died while serving their country since Sept. 11.

“If they want to call me an inspiration because of the things I have to do on a daily basis, fine. I’ll take that,’’ says Nicely. “But hero? No. I have friends who are heroes. The guys who aren’t coming home -- those are the heroes.”

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The motto of the Excel Bottling Company in Breese, Ill., is “Good Things Don’t Have To Change.”

And they really mean it.

Here, on the corner of Broadway and Clinton streets, four generations of the Meier family have been selling soda for nearly 80 years.

They make it the old-fashioned way -- with pure cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup -- using  vintage bottling equipment that was already “secondhand” when it was purchased in 1936.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Who ARE those daring engineers who have been rappelling down the north leg of the Gateway Arch to check the condition of the monument’s shiny stainless steel exterior?

Officially, they’re known as the “Difficult Access Team” of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, a Chicago-based firm of engineers, architects and scientists who specialize in assessing and restoring historic buildings and monuments.

“We are building doctors,’’ says Stephen Kelley who is leading the project. “We are doing a diagnosis.”

The 2014 postseason ended Thursday night for the Cardinals, with a 6-3 loss to the Giants, who will now face America’s darlings -- the unstoppable Kansas City Royals -- in the World Series. 

The Royals, a wild card winner in the American League, are undefeated in the postseason. They swept the Baltimore Orioles to get to the World Series for the first time since they won it in 1985, against the Cardinals.

It’s down-to-the-last-out time again for the Cardinals after losing Game Four of the National League Championship Series, 6-4, Wednesday night. The Cards are perched on the brink of elimination, trailing the Giants 3-1  in the best-of-seven series.

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Engineers will be literally hanging around the Gateway Arch this week examining stains on the monument’s stainless steel exterior surface.

The engineers plan to descend from the hatch at the top of the 630-foot-tall Arch and use a rope system to descend down the north leg to an area about 425 feet above the ground where they will collect samples that could  help determine the best way to clean the monument.

After a stomach-churning 5-4 victory Sunday, the Cardinals head to San Francisco, tied 1-1 with the Giants in the National League Championship Series.

Kolten Wong clinched Game Two for the Cards with a walk-off solo home run in the ninth.

It had been a back-and-forth contest with plenty of fireworks for Cards fans. Matt Carpenter, Oscar Taveras and Matt Adams each hit solo home runs before Wong’s lead-off homer in the ninth.

After a 3-0 loss Saturday to the Giants in Game One of the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals have a sure-fire weapon to brighten spirits at Busch Stadium Sunday night: The Budweiser Clydesdales are coming.

Weather permitting, the Best Horsies in Baseball will take a pre-game trot around the warning track before Game Two of the best-of-seven series.The game starts at 7:07 p.m. Scheduled to pitch are righthanders Lance Lynn for the Cards and Jake Peavy for the Giants.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Welcome back, San Francisco. The postseason just doesn’t seem the same when you’re not here.

While some in the baseball world are squawking about how the Cards or the Giants have represented the National League in the World Series since 2010, we're good with it.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Here We Go Again!

That was the message on the scoreboard at Busch Stadium Tuesday night after the Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 to win the division series.

File photo / Mary Delach Leonard / St. Louis Beacon

Red October finally gets underway in St. Louis on Monday with Cardinals fans welcoming home the 2014 National League Central Division champs, now tied 1-1 with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason division series.

File Photo | St. Louis Cardinals

Be careful, Cardinal Nation. Tickets for playoff games sold on the secondary market could be scams, according to the St. Louis Better Business Bureau.

The Internet has become the go-to place for sports fans looking to buy or sell tickets, notes the BBB, but it is also a breeding ground for scammers. There have been cases of counterfeit tickets sold for local entertainment events, including a Bruno Mars concert at Scottrade Center and the English Premier League soccer match at Busch Stadium in May 2013.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The century-old Goldenrod Showboat is still in limbo, waiting along an empty stretch of the Illinois River like a forgotten star from yesteryear yearning for one more curtain call.

The Goldenrod is moored out of sight -- hidden by weeds and brush in a remote spot along Highway 100, north of Kampsville, Ill. But she’s not been forgotten. A small band of diehard fans say they are determined to rescue and return the vessel to the St. Louis riverfront where she spent half her life.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

A narrow hallway in the parish center at St. Stephen’s and The Vine Church in Ferguson is crammed full of good intentions: cans of corn and green beans, tuna and soup, bottles of water, boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Donations have been pouring into the little volunteer food pantry housed at the Episcopal church on North Clay Avenue since a local TV station mentioned it on the news. People have come from all over St. Louis, from Fenton and Alton and Belleville to drop off canned goods they’ve collected in food drives for Ferguson held at businesses, universities and churches.

National Park Service / Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Had things gone differently in 1947, instead of the majestic stainless steel Gateway Arch that is recognized around the world, St. Louis could have a rectangular stone gate standing tall on the riverfront today.

Or, a large, abstract monument signifying … something. 

Other suggestions proposed for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial included towering pylons and bridges.