MORONI—Leonard Blackham, former state senator and Utah Commissioner of Agriculture, and his wife, Laura, will be the grand marshals of the Moroni July Fourth celebration.
Leonard has lived his whole life in Moroni, and Laura came to Moroni at age 14. Both say they grew up in wonderful families and still enjoy their association with their brothers and sisters that are still living.
They met in junior high. They enjoyed academics and activities at North Sanpete High School, Snow College and Utah State University. Laura graduated in home economics and Leonard in agriculture economics.
They married in 1970 and raised six children, Tony, Amy, Thomas, Jenny, Michelle and Jeanette. They say their children are their greatest treasures next to their 13 grandchildren.
The Blackhams’ lives have revolved around family, service and the turkey business. They say family is first and most important. Their whole family has been involved in their farm and their community service.
When Leonard’s father died just before Leonard and Laura were married, they decided to make a living in the turkey business. It became apparent the farm would have to grow considerably to make the living they desired for their family.
Over the next 15 years, the farm grew from 34,000 turkeys per year to 360,000 at the time Leonard turned the farm over to his sons.
Leonard was also very involved in Moroni Feed Co., and served on the board and as part of the management team, including during some very challenging years in the turkey business. The Blackhams were also involved in the Utah Young Farmers and the Utah Farm Bureau.
Leonard’s service during his working years on his farm was primarily in Boy Scouts. He started as a Scout leader at age 15. He was awarded the Silver Beaver and served many times as a Jamboree scoutmaster and Woodbadge leader. He has also served in many church leadership positions.
The Moroni Fourth of July turkey barbecue was started as an Eagle Scout activity in 1974. For many years, Scouts learned to cook barbecued turkey. After a few years, it became a part of the city Fourth of July and transitioned to the Blackham family rather than the Scouts.
Leonard also chaired the early development and building of the Tifie Scout Camp, with, he says, a lot of local help. He says he has loved his involvement with the Scouts.
Laura has served in many Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society positions and as a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader. She also served in the 4-H, PTA and as an election judge for many years.
She has also enjoyed serving in the Daughter of the Utah Pioneers the last few years and as a missionary in the History Records Operations Center. Her family describes her as a detail-oriented person who never neglects her responsibilities.
Early in their marriage, the Blackhams also got involved in public service, first helping get improvements at Moroni City parks. They say they are also grateful to have serve with others in the restoration of the Moroni Opera House.
When the farm was large enough to hire full time employees, Leonard ran for and was elected as a Sanpete County commissioner. Later he served in the Utah House of Representatives and for 12 years in the Utah State Senate, ending up as majority leader.
Twenty-five years in political service required the support of the whole family and yielded many great friends. Leonard often slept in Salt Lake City and Bountiful during those years, but, he says, “I have always lived in Moroni.” He and Laura drove home almost every weekend. Blackhams say they are now retired—and rather tired. They say they love the people of Moroni and their Sanpete County heritage, adding, “Thanks to all of you as good citizens and friends.”