Leonard Earle LeSourd, 76, an author, editor and publisher whose work included leading the monthly religious magazine Guideposts and editing books of Watergate defendant Charles W. Colson, died Feb. 5 at a hospital in Boynton Beach, Fla. He had cancer and heart ailments.

From 1951 until 1974, Mr. LeSourd was executive editor of Guideposts, which was founded by the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who became a best-selling author in the 1950s with the self-help book "The Power of Positive Thinking." Under Mr. LeSourd's stewardship, the circulation of Guideposts grew from a few thousand to 2.25 million.

In 1975, Mr. LeSourd and his second wife, Catherine Marshall, became partners in Chosen Books Publishing Co., which published Colson's first two books, "Born Again" (1976) and "Life Sentence" (1979).

Mr. LeSourd met Colson when the former aide to President Richard M. Nixon was serving seven months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal. He suggested to Colson that Chosen Books publish Colson's account of his religious conversion. The two men prayed together, and Colson agreed to the suggestion.

In addition to Colson's first two books, Mr. LeSourd also helped edit 18 of Catherine Marshall's religious books, including "Beyond Ourselves," "Something More" and "Adventures in Prayer," and her two novels, "Christy" and "Julie." He was an adviser and consultant to the CBS television series "Christy," which is based on Marshall's novel about a young girl who ministers to an impoverished mountain people. The heroine of the novel was said to have been based on Marshall's mother.

Marshall was the widow of the Rev. Peter Marshall, the former Senate chaplain and pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. She also wrote the best-selling 1951 book "A Man Called Peter," about her late husband. She died in 1983.

Mr. LeSourd, a resident of Lincoln, Va., and Delray Beach, Fla., was born in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1941. He was an Army Air Forces pilot during World War II. He later wrote a book, "Skybent," about his experiences flying. His most recent book, "Strong Men, Weak Men," was published in 1990.

In 1946, he joined the staff of Guideposts as a reporter. He wrote and edited hundreds of articles and edited 11 Guideposts anthologies.

He met Marshall while reworking a chapter from her best-selling 1957 book, "To Live Again," for publication in Guideposts. He moved from New York to the Washington area after their 1959 marriage.

He was a former chairman of the board of Breakthrough, a prayer ministry they founded in 1980.

Mr. LeSourd received a Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, a life trustee of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a member of the National Advisory Board of Christian Healing Ministries and a former vice president of the Presbyterian & Reformed Renewal Ministries.

His first marriage, to Eve LeSourd, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Sandra Simpson LeSourd of Lincoln and Delray Beach, whom he married in 1985; three children from his first marriage, Linda LeSourd Lader of Hilton Head, S.C., and Washington, Leonard Chester LeSourd of Chattanooga and Jeffrey Alan LeSourd of Herndon; four stepchildren; and nine grandchildren.


Association Official

Joseph L. O'Brien, 90, a retired vice president of both the Air Transport Association and the National Alliance of Businessmen, died Feb. 4 at the Powhatan nursing home in Falls Church after a stroke. He lived in Vienna.

Mr. O'Brien was a 1927 graduate of Boston College and received a master's degree in education from Boston University. He was a high school teacher and guidance counselor in his native Quincy, Mass. From 1942 to 1949, he worked for Northeast Airlines in Boston, becoming the airline's personnel and training director.

He was vice president of the Air Transport Association from 1949 to 1970 and of the National Alliance of Businessmen from 1970 until retiring in 1978.

Mr. O'Brien was a past president of the Washington chapter of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the D.C. chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association. He was a member of the National Aeronautics Association and the National Aviation Club. She had served on the boards of the Dominion National Bank of Falls Church and Parks Air College in St. Louis.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Marie Dunan O'Brien, and two sons, David and Joseph, all of Vienna; a daughter, Jane Argento of Reston; a sister, Phyllis Gunnels of Reston; and 13 grandchildren.