Ex-Poplar Bluff resident's book tells of God search

Sunday, September 25, 2011

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Former Poplar Bluff resident Tony Leonard discusses his search for God in "The Vines," a self-published book to be released in October.

The name of the book comes from an area of berry vines Leonard would visit with his mother as a young child. He sought solace in the vines in the 1940s when, at the age of 3, he saw his father badly burned in a tractor accident.

From there the book follows Leonard's journey through three religions as he searched for truth.

"The book is about my search for God," Leonard said. "I didn't find it in religion. I found it somewhere else."

Leonard said he does not name any religious groups by name, but he discusses his journey from a "wild religion" to a "wild organized religion" and later through a "wild strange religion."

Leonard's search led him right back where he started, to those berry vines near Reyno, Ark.

Leonard, who now lives in Mountain Home, Ark., lived in Corning, Ark., for much of his life. He moved to Poplar Bluff in the 2000s and worked as a CNA at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. Because he spent so much time in the area, Leonard says the Poplar Bluff area and its residents play a part in his book.

When Leonard first began writing the book years ago, he found he was still too bitter at some of the religious people who had hurt him through the years.

"The book was so full of hate I couldn't publish it," he said. "It took me 15 years to get out of it."

A struggle with a pituitary gland tumor served as "God's chastisement," according to Leonard, and helped him see things differently.

"The Vines," published by Enterprise Printing in Bull Shoals, Ark., is available by calling Leonard at 870-580-0336.

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