Seaman First Class Leo Harper was born in the Deep Run area of Lenoir County, North Carolina on June 5th, 1924 to Leon and Carrie Mae Harper. He attended Deep Run High School. He enlisted in the United States Navy September 1943. He served as a gunner on an ammunition ship. He returned home in March 1946.
He served in many civic organizations over the years. They are as follows: The Deep Run Original Free Will Baptist Church, The Pleasant Hill Masonic Lodge (Shiner and Mason), The Deep Run Ruritan Club, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Lion’s Club, The Lenoir Shine Club and The North Carolina Law Enforcement Association. He also served as a Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.
He loved hunting and the outdoors, such as hunting quail and deer, fishing, love of nature, preservation of wild life, hunting dogs, gardening and cooking of country cuisine. He was also a farmer.
Leo Harper is best known for his long career in Law Enforcement. He first joined the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Department. For a short time he served as ABC officer before returning to the Sheriff’s Department. He was elected Sheriff of Lenoir County in 1970. He served in that position until 1988. He retired in December of 1988 after 34 years of outstanding service. Sheriff Leo Harper was an action officer. He spent much of his time patrolling and observing the woods, fields and roads of Lenoir County.
As Sheriff of Lenoir County, Leo Harper receive many awards and accolades from local groups, the State Bureau of Investigation and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was nominated for the J. Edgar Hoover Award by the VFW. He was a runner-up in the nation for his excellence in the field of Law Enforcement.
He has been honored by the citizens of Lenoir County by naming a bridge on Highway 11 that crosses South West Creek