More than 200 people turned out Monday night to surprise and honor Catoosa County’s Leonard Fant upon his retirement as CEO of Blood Assurance of Chattanooga.
Friends and former colleagues, from former professional baseball player Rick Honeycutt to former Erlanger hospital administrator Irvin Overton, shared personal and professional memories of Mr. Fant, 74.
The honoree has served as alderman and mayor of Fort Oglethorpe, president and CEO of Hutcheson Medical Center, formerly Tri-County Hospital, and chief operating officer at Erlanger. He also held the title of CEO at North Park Hospital and chaired the Hutcheson Health Foundation board and the Catoosa Performing Arts Foundation.
“I think we threw Leonard a curve ball,” said Mr. Honeycutt, a former pitcher and now pitching coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, referring to the successful effort to keep Monday’s formal dinner at the Colonnade Civic Center a secret from Mr. Fant.
Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb, Phil Erli of Catoosa Performing Arts, Chattanooga businessman John Germ and retired minister Charles Neal were among those who spoke, and recording artist James Rogers, who as a youth sang in a church choir directed by Mr. Fant, provided entertainment.
Mr. Fant, who will be replaced at Blood Assurance by Rick Youngblood, was shocked.
“I didn’t know a thing about this,” he said. “I didn’t know until I walked in (the room).”