LEARN MORE ABOUT MRS. LEONARDMarianne Guthman Leonard and her family were one of the few fortunate families who were able to relocate to the United States and escape Nazi Germany just as the horror of the Holocaust began. In 1938, the Guthmans left their families and all they knew in Germany and settled in Norwalk to start a new life. Thanks to the help of a number of local charitable organizations, they quickly adjusted and began to flourish in America.
Marianne attended Norwalk schools where she had many friends and became a popular majorette and during her senior year of high school she was elected to be an attendant to Miss Norwalk High School during the Christmas Dance. It was that same year that she met another Norwalk High School alumni, Stew Leonard. Stew accompanied her to that dance, and to others, before Marianne left for the University of Connecticut to pursue a nursing degree.
But shortly into her college career, Marianne and Stew became engaged and then were married. Marianne took a job at Merchants Bank and Trust while Stew was running his family’s dairy, and together they began to build a life in Norwalk.
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Work and family were always a blended effort for Stew and Marianne; they worked hard to ensure that Clover Farms Dairy, and later Stew Leonard’s, got the attention and focus that the business needed, from spending time there before every holiday to help customers, to teaching their four children early on to take a role in the business. They made sure that family time was important, attending their children’s activities and making family dinners and holidays a top priority.
Marianne’s appreciation for the help that her family received when they moved to Norwalk has always shaped Marianne’s own sense of giving; finding ways to give back and contribute, from working with local organizations to steering programs at Stew Leonard’s, has always been important. But nothing has been more giving than her support of the Stew Leonard III Children’s Charities. This organization was born when Marianne and Stew lost their grandson, Stew Leonard III who drowned in a back yard swimming pool at just 21 months old. The charity was started by her son, Stew Leonard, Jr., and she has been an avid supporter, cheerleader and advocate. Started in Norwalk, CT, the charity has taught tens of thousands of children around the country to swim.