Leonard "Buddy" Christian

COLUMBIA — Leonard "Buddy" Christian was known by his friends and family for his sense of humor, vast sports knowledge and genuine love for life.

"He was always keeping people laughing," Melvin Christian, his brother, said. "He truly lived his life."

Leonard Christian died Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, at NorthCare Hospice House. He was 54.

He was born April 12, 1957, in Boonville to Gilbert and Bettie (Smith) Christian.

Mr. Christian loved sports and was a devoted New York Yankees fan. He was involved in sports his entire life, ranging from playing sports to watching them.

"He knew everything about sports," his brother said. "We played everyday."

They played 3-on-3 in the backyard when they were young, and they always pretended they were the UCLA Bruins, their favorite team. They wore Bruins T-shirts when they played. Their UCLA Bruins team consisted of Mr. Christian, his brother and a friend, Clarence Rowland.

"Couldn't nobody beat us," said Mr. Christian's brother.

Richard Johnson, Mr. Christian's best friend, recalled being in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts with him, beginning when they were seven or eight years old. They also played baseball together on Bunceton's Little League team.

"We probably did just about anything," said Johnson.

Mr. Christian and his brother played basketball together in middle school.

"He was 5-foot-9 and dunkin' a basketball," his brother said. "He could really jump."

After moving to Boonville, Mr. Christian started on the varsity basketball team. Later, he moved to Columbia and attended Hickman High School.

After graduating, he attended Lincoln University on a basketball scholarship for a short time before enlisting in the United States Army.

Mr. Christian enjoyed spending time with friends and family and watching baseball and basketball on TV.

He was employed by the Richard Johnson Lawn Care Company where he worked for his best friend, and he was a member of the Highland Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City. He was also a veteran of the United States Army.

Mr. Christian is survived by his mother, Bettie Christian of Independence; his loving companion, Carol Carter, and her five daughters; a son, Brandon Perry of Boonville; two daughters, Erica Harris and Vanessa Perry, both of Columbia; two brothers, Melvin Christian and Glenwood Christian, both of Boonville; two sisters, Diann Jones of Columbia and Carolyn Tyler of Virginia; and five grandchildren.

His father, Gilbert Christian, and his sister, Cynthia Christian, died earlier.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at H.T. May and Son Funeral Home, 405 Sycamore Street, Boonville.