Jack L. Leggett, 78, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, died of a malignant brain tumor Sept. 4 at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital. He lived in Mount Vernon.
Col. Leggett was born in Evansville, Ind., and grew up in several small towns in southern Illinois. After graduating from high school in 1945, he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Berlin during the postwar years.
After his discharge, he studied for two years at the University of Oklahoma before being recalled to active duty in June 1950. He received his bachelor's degree from the university some years later.
He served 22 months in Korea during the Korean War and also served in Japan. He was commissioned in Korea. Shortly after deciding to make a career of the Army, he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. No longer able to serve with the regular Army, he became a Reserve officer.
He was posted in numerous locations in the United States and overseas, including Germany, England, Korea and Thailand, where he commanded the U.S. Army port at Sattahip. His final assignment was with the Combat Developments Command at Fort Belvoir.
Col. Leggett, who retired in 1973, often mentioned how proud he was that during his 30-year career, he held every rank from private to colonel.
His medals included the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.
After retiring from the military, Col. Leggett worked for a few years as a civilian with the Army Materiel Command and then devoted himself to golfing daily at Fort Belvoir and to spending time with his friends and grandchildren.
He walked regularly in his Mount Vernon area neighborhood, where the children knew him as "the Candy Man" for his habit of handing out caramels. He occasionally joined them in their basketball games, which prompted another nickname, "the Big Kid."
He entertained his own grandchildren with fanciful stories conjured out of his vivid imagination. The stories often began in response to the question from one of the grandkids: "Where are we?"
"We're in a park. . . ," Col. Leggett would begin, and the story would unfold.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Mary T. Leggett of Fairfax County; two daughters, Jacquelynn Leggett of Oak Hill and Carol Leggett Barsten of Poquoson, Va.; two brothers; a sister; and two grandchildren.