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Obituary - John Lenore

A Generous Supporter of the American Saddlebreds - John Lenore

John and Dorothy Lenore devoted many years to the American Saddlebred horse. One of his passions within the industry was the American Saddlebred Horse Museum.

John Paul Lenore, 86, of El Cajon, California, passed away on Sunday, April 19, 2015. John was born in Cleveland, Ohio to parents James Pettinato and Betty De Chiazza on August 8, 1928. Sadly, James passed away when John was only five. His mother, Betty, later married John Valentino Lenore and the family of eight made their home in Wheeling, West Virginia.

As a young man, John saw an ad in the local newspaper about Manlius Military Academy outside of Syracuse, New York and decided to write a letter requesting a scholarship for football. Luckily, the school granted the scholarship because once John joined the team they went on to become undefeated for two years, all the while playing against college freshmen and college JV. Later, John worked his summers on the railroad and in the coal mines. He was known, even then, as a hard worker. While working the railroad as a spiker, John set a record of setting 135 ties in a single day.

John met his “Dot,” Dorothy Madelyn Marshall, and it was love at first sight. Five months later they married on November 6, 1948. Seeking a better life, John and Dorothy moved to California. Little did they know, with only $300 dollars in their pockets, they were about to become parents. After selling their car to pay for the hospital bill, John, Dorothy and their new baby, Pam, set up home in Fontana, California. In the following years, Jay and Jamie were born.

Although John was not in the military service, (he had tried to join by altering his birth certificate), he had a great respect for those that served. As his part of his duty to the country he loved, he vowed to work hard. This proud Sicilian American believed America provides us with every opportunity; it is our responsibility to make something of it. As he stated in his autobiography, America, “In America you can be whatever you want to be, if you are willing to get off your a** and work hard!”

While working for Hamms Brewery, John was offered a chance to become a distributor in San Diego. Fifty years later, John, his two sons Jay and Jamie and their hard working employees have made the John Lenore and Co. one of the most recognized and admired distributorships in the country. He took great pride in bringing his retail partners the latest trends and products in the market place.

Not only did he own a local business, but he owned and operated the Logret Import & Export Co. which distributed the G. Heileman products, Pabst, Schlitz and many more private and privileged label products to chain stores throughout California and Arizona. He later entered into the bottling, brewing and distributorship of beverages in Cold Springs, Minnesota when he purchased the former Gluek Beverage Production Brewery.
Since the mid-1960s, he recognized and helped create categories and trends that are major business categories today: Imported Beers, Craft Beers, New Age and Nutritional Beverages, Privileged Label and Private Label Malt Beverages, and RTD Flavored Alcoholic Beverages. He successfully began and managed: Direct Store Delivery and Sales Company, Direct Chain Warehouse Delivery and Sales Company, Regional Import and Sales Company, National and International Sales Company and a Major Beverage and Malt Beverage Production Plant. John was a driven and very successful man.

Over the years, John and his wife Dorothy also enjoyed horses. After watching their son Jamie excel within the American Saddlebred and Morgan show arenas, they ventured into the horse breeding business. Lenore Farms of Versailles, Kentucky was a great love of theirs. In the show ring Jamie had great success with the Morgan Funquest War Whoop as well as the Amateur Three-Gaited World’s Champion of Champions Denmark’s Music Man. Under the direction of Tom Moore he drove Bold Flamette to the 1982 World’s Champion Amateur Fine Harness Mare title.

Bold Flamette would be instrumental in the Lenore family’s passion for raising American Saddlebreds. A daughter of Hayfield’s Bold Knight and Flamette Desdemona, Bold Flamette’s first foal was by World’s Grand Champion CH Night Prowler. Named in honor of their beloved Morgan who had passed away the same day the stunning chestnut stud colt was born, CH War Whoop Two. As a two-year-old he won at Lexington and was Reserve World’s Champion in the ASHA Two-Year-Old Fine Harness Futurity. He would again be a Reserve World’s Champion as a four-year-old and win several open titles with Tom Moore.

Bold Flamette would also produce Hot Lava, Royal Flamette, Lenore’s Royal Flush, Royal Flamette Two and Lenore’s Special E.T. All but War Whoop Two were by Royal Return, another stallion owned by the Lenore Family. Royal Return was by World’s Grand Champion CH Yorktown out of World’s Grand Champion CH Bellisima.

Driven by Jamie Lenore to an Amateur Fine Harness World’s Championship and by Tom Moore to two Fine Harness Mare World’s Championships, Bold Flamette was the cornerstone of the Lenore breeding program.

For many years the Lenores took great pride in watching the babies of War Whoop Two and Royal Return grow up and excel in the show ring. War Dancer, Son Of War, Prairie Rhythm, War Promise, Lenore’s Prairie Flower, See My Agent, Lenore’s Whoop De Do, Prairie Bayou, War Princess, CH Prairie Dancer, CH What’s The Whoopla and CH Princess Ruby Begonia are among those stars.

“When the Lenores contemplated moving their show string to Arrowhead Farm in 1981, none of us had ever met,” explained Tolley Graves, who was married to Tom Moore at the time. “Tom had a brief phone conversation with John who in his no-nonsense way, made it clear that they wanted Jamie to show and win at the highest level of competition. John never did anything halfway. He aimed for the top in every endeavor and was always open to opportunities that may present themselves. He was Italian and had a personality as big as all outdoors and would not hesitate to introduce himself and strike up a conversation.

“As time went by and he moved through the Saddlebred industry, many doors opened to John Lenore. The biggest was his and Dorothy’s love of breeding American Saddlebreds. John was a proud father to many homebred foals every spring, though his wife (and the love of his life) was the guiding force behind that endeavor. John was instrumental in persuading the Kentucky State Fair to give back to the Saddlebred industry with a $100,000 annual donation to the ASHA from the proceeds of the World’s Championship Horse Show. This accomplishment was a result of and showcased his negotiating skills and his philanthropic nature.

“When Keith Bartz retired as Director of the Museum, John’s and my paths crossed again, because John was the current President of the Museum,” continued Graves. “I only served one short year under his five-year tenure as President. John never missed a Museum board meeting during his nine years on the board and he ran his meetings the same way he ran his business. He kept the meetings on topic and on schedule, asked to-the-point questions and held people accountable for their assigned roles. John had a deep and abiding faith and gave his Lord and Savior both credit and thanks for all the good in his family’s life. He was enormously proud of his family and never stopped talking about Jamie’s wins on the green shavings. 

“The last gift he and Dorothy gave this industry was their most generous donation to the Museum’s capital campaign to build the Showplace for Saddlebreds addition to the Museum. I’m so very pleased that the John P. and Dorothy M. Lenore Saddlebred Gallery Wing stands as a lasting tribute to their love for this breed. Our industry lost a good friend,” said Graves.

Giving back to the industry that brought his family so much joy, John was a Museum Trustee from 1991 to 2000 and was President of the Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000. Toward the end of his life, John and Dorothy generously donated their horse breeding legacy and their horses to Oak Hill Academy, Virginia.
 John Lenore was not only a hard worker, but also a very generous man with money and guidance. He taught that if something was worth your time, then he believed in giving it your best. He inspired many people throughout this country, including many from abroad. Those within his family, company, and the beverage industry would agree his drive and tenacity were above all else. His love for his family and employees was well known and respected. He had a huge heart and was known for giving and helping those in need. A favorite memory for many is how John would stop and help the needy. It was not uncommon for him to share a meal, or give a “wad of twenties even 100’s” to a homeless individual. He would say, “That’s someone’s child; they need it more than I do.” As said, his heart was HUGE.

Surviving family members include his wife of 66 wonderful years, Dorothy Madelyn Lenore of El Cajon, California, their three children, Pam Tobias, Jay Lenore and Jamie Lenore, all of San Diego. John also leaves behind three brothers, Dr. Tom Lenore, Anthony Lenore, and Tony Lenore; two sisters, Patricia Lenore Wagner and Mary Lenore Quigley, all of California. He will also be greatly missed by seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, all of whom enjoyed the weekly Friday night dinners with Poppy and Grammy at Anthony’s in La Mesa, California. His family, his employees, and the retail beverage community, were his pride and joy. He loved them dearly. In addition to his love for his family, he loved and adored His Heavenly Father. His faith in God was his source of strength. He was a devout Catholic and a Man of God.
 A Viewing and Rosary were held Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at the Church of St. Luke in El Cajon, California, followed by Mass and a graveside service.


Bred by the Lenores, CH War Whoop Two enjoyed tremendous success as a show ring star and breeding stallion. Tom Moore guided his show ring career.

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