Book signing to be held


Franklin Memorial Library is pleased to announce an author book signing of Mrs. Helen Leonard on Monday, April 29, at 10:30 a.m. Mrs. Leonard married Swainsboro native Pete Leonard some fifty years ago and has one son, Trey Leonard. Recently she published a biography of her “larger-than-life” broth-er-in-law, Tyson Leonard. The riveting biography, The Ultimate High Roller, will walk you through Ty-son’s life and how he grew a multi-million-dollar company from the ground up.

Tyson Leonard grew up in Swainsboro in the late 1940’s and 50’s. Leonard and all of his brothers were very well known in the town due to their successes in sports. According to the locals, Tyson was definitely the star of the football team with 22 touchdowns and 1,723 yards rushing his senior year. Leonard was honored to play on the South team for the Georgia All-Star game in Atlanta. He received a full grant and aid scholarship to play football for the Clemson Tigers. When his many shenanigans clouded his way, he was kicked off the team but later played football at Wofford.

Not only was he known for his football career in Swainsboro but also for his many pranks and unorthodox general outlook on life. Leonard was always referred to as one-of-a-kind and for those that knew him, were thankful that there wasn’t another.

In 1963, Leonard and his brother Mike started “Leonard Aluminum Buildings”, buying sheds from Eb Garrett and later Henry Chappell. Over the years the business grew into a multi-million dollar company and was finally sold in 2015.

Leonard was always willing to bet on most anything. In the mid-1970’s the Leonard brothers opened a nightclub in Myrtle Beach, SC called Tramps which was later changed to Cow-boys. This opened the door for Tyson to become actively involved in large gambling events on the golf course as well as other places. Combined with his willingness to gamble for high stakes and his unexpected behavior toward his opponents, he became known as one of the highest rollers in the United States along with Evel Knievel, Doyle (Texas Dolly) Brunson, and Billy Baxter. Leonard played golf matches all over the United States, especially in Las Vegas and Palm Spring as well as Island of the Caribbean.

In his later years, Leonard built one of the largest longhorn ranches in the southeast on the New River near Independence, VA. He spent his senior years traveling to cattle sales all over the United States and because of his demeanor was well known by everyone.

Helen Leonard, the books author is a Bulloch County native where she attended Southeast Bulloch High School in Brooklet. She graduated from Georgia Southern College with a BS in Education and a major in mathematics. After retiring from a 30-year teaching career (mostly in Mount Airy, NC) she has been involved in various business ventures as well as volunteer posi-tions. Helen married into the Leonard Family in 1968 and witnessed the adventurous ap-proach to life that was characteristic of her brother-in-law. Over the years many tales were shared and it was often said, “Someone should write a book about Tyson.” The only problem was, we didn’t know whether to label it as fiction or nonfiction since many events were unbe-lievable to normal people. After the passing of her husband, Pete, Helen approached Leonard with the possibility of writing a book. He was ecstatic about the idea and wanted everything told; no matter how damning the telling. However, his untimely death eight months later as well as the shutting down of the country because of COVID, put the brakes on the progress of the book. Several years later she picked up the project again and with the help of over 30 inter-views with relatives, childhood friends, classmates, business associates and gambling buddies, she was finally able to finish the book.

Mount Airy, NC continues to be Helen Leonard’s home but her visits to her homeplace near Leefield are mandatory at Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as several pop-in visits throughout the year. “The Ultimate High Roller (Memoirs of Tyson Leonard)” can be pur-chased directly from the publisher on the website It is also listed on but purchasers have shared that it takes several weeks to receive.

About the back cover

A biography of an American icon who entertained the world with his antics and became one of the biggest gamblers of all time.

Tyson Leonard was definitely one of a kind. As a child, he was the leader of the pack. In little league, high school and college he was the star of the football team. Challenging the business world, he grew a multi-million-dollar company and served as its president for over fifty years. His creative abilities allowed him to entertain the world on the golf course or in any everyday situation.

In his gambling heyday from 1974 to 1985, Tyson took North Myrtle Beach and Bay Tree Golf Plantation by storm. He was well known by all the top gamblers including, Doyle Brunson, Evel Knievel, Billy Baxter, "Jimmy the Greek," Joe Sylvan, Billy Walters and Dewey Tomko and it wasn't unusual to bet a $1,000,000 on a super bowl game.

Later in life, he built one of the largest longhorn ranches in the southeast. At one time he had over 750 longhorns and around 100 horses in residence.

The adventures of "Texaco Tex" will keep you spellbound with his captivating journey through life and he definitely did it "His Way!”

About the Author

Helen Leonard grew up near Statesboro, Georgia and received her BS in Education with a major in mathematics from Georgia Southern College (now University). She was married to Pete Leonard from Swainsboro, Georgia for fifty years and they lived in Georgetown, SC, Knoxville, TN and Richmond, VA; but most of that time in Mount Airy, NC. The couple had one son, Trey Leonard who is presently serving as a captain in the Mount Airy Fire Department. Helen taught mathematics in middle and high school, retiring with over thirty years of teaching. She was elected to Who's Who Among Ameri-ca's Teachers in 1982, Teacher of the Year in 1983, NCCAT in 1994 & 1995, NC Teacher Academy in 1995 & 1996 and the Gentry Middle School's yearbook was dedicated to her in 1999. After her retire-ment, she helped to establish a Sylvan Learning Center in the local community and served as the Direc-tor for four years. Helen serves as the church clerk at Flat Rock Baptist and over the years was active in the Retired School Personnel Organization and the Mount Airy Country Club Ladies Golf Association. She is presently helping her son and his business partner, Travis Grey in a clerical and supervisory ca-pacity at their business, Golf Cart Outlet of Mount Airy, LLC.