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Leonard Shouse, the man who helped turn Simpsonville into a city and brought its residents a sewer system, died Tuesday after complications from a fall the day after Thanksgiving. He was 89.
“He fell the day after Thanksgiving and broke his leg,” his daughter Carolyn Shouse Mills said. “Everything went wrong from that point on.”
She said her father had suffered severely from emphysema for years and that he spent 19 days in Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, 15 in intensive or critical care, and the last two weeks or so on Crestview Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.
Shouse served for 11 years in Simpsonville’s government in the 1970s and ‘80s and helped incorporate it into the commission form of government under which it operates today.
“A lot of the ordinances that he put in place we still operate by today,” Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said. “His big thing was getting sewers into the city, getting the city incorporated and starting out as its first mayor.”
Shouse was a native of Waddy who moved with his wife of 71 years, the former Martha Cozine, to her hometown of Simpsonville shortly after serving the Army in World War II. They built a home on Veechdale Road and there raised Mills and her sister, Norma Shouse Diakow of Lawrenceburg. He had three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
He was a deacon and taught Sunday school at Simpsonville Baptist Church, where he was a member for 65 years, and also served as a Master of the Wingate Masonic Lodge No. 151 F&AM in Simpsonville.
He was an airplane and helicopter mechanic who retired as a master sergeant in the Kentucky Army National Guard.
“Growing up as a kid, he was in the Baptist church,” said Eden, who is a member there “I got to serve with him in the Lion’s Club and at the Masonic lodge. He was very dedicated to the city.
“I remember going to lodge meetings and letting him know what was going on with city and asking him what he would do, he was always good with advice. I always appreciated him.”
Shouse’s legacy of public service developed because of a friendship and blossomed into a commitment.
“He was very close with Mr. Bailey Newton and through his association with him and his association with community, Mr. Newton just insisted that he run for the office, to get him involved,” Mills said. “He served as major seven or eight years. He was always interested in others, always interested in serving, first his country. He loved his family, loved giving back.”
Shouse also served at Eden’s appointment on the Triple S Planning Commission’s board of adjustment and appeals for two or three terms, and the only reason he resigned was because he and Martha sold their home and moved to Amber Oaks, which meant he no longer could be Simpsonville’s delegate to the board.
“It wasn’t a matter of just showing up and getting a paycheck,” Mills said. “He was very interested. As a matter of fact, didn’t want to resign, but he had to because he moved.”
If Shouse had one greater passion that Mills didn’t list, it was his devotion to restoring Ford Mustangs, particularly 1965 Fords.
“I heard him tell somebody once that he had twelve of them,” Mills said. “All of them were 1965s except he told me his yellow convertible was a 1964 and a half model.”
Leonard Shouse built a workshop out behind his house on Veechdale Road, where he could keep up as many as three vehicles at a time to be restored.
“He did all his restoration work back there,” Mills said. “He would go and buy old parts and restore those old parts. I remember seeing him sit at a desk and go over and over an old steering wheel. He was very meticulous.
“He did his own upholstery. He did everything but painting.”
Shouse was a member of Kyana Antique Car Club and spent a lot of time with his friend Ron Miller in pursuit of that avocation, and in June 1998 he was featured in an article in Mustang Timesmagazine in which the author, Mike Spaulding, spoke of restoring a 1966 Mustang. He wrote that Shouse “knows more about Mustangs than any man I’ve ever met. He may also be one of the most friendly and honest men around.”
Said Mills: “I’ve heard so many wonderful things about my dad.”
Eden said he last saw Shouse in late summer at event at the lodge. He said the emphysema had left Shouse unable to climb the steps into the building.
“The lodge is putting on Masonic funeral on Thursday night,” Eden said. “I’ll be there. It’s an honor to get to do that for him.”