Mike Leonard has been a part of the TODAY family for over three decades, covering stories about ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things.
Thursday, he announced his retirement with an incredible special tribute to a not-so-ordinary person in his own life — his wife, Cathy — who has inspired him "to see the beauty in our everyday existence.”
"Your stories...are a microcosm of you," said Matt Lauer after Mike's final segment aired and the tears were wiped away. "They all have incredible heart, they're told with kindness, and hope, and modesty. They are understated and yet so powerful, and that is you in a nutshell."
"You have an amazing gift, an amazing talent," said Savannah Guthrie.
Among Mike's favorite stories, he said, is this one, about a remarkable Chicago mailman:
James Hundley is a 63-year-old Chicago mailman whose mission is to treat all of his customers with dignity, respect and love despite getting caught in the middle of hate and violence as a peaceful civil rights protester in the 1960s.
And here's one of our favorites, about a day in the life of the Leonard household:
Feb. 20: Balancing work and family is never easy, especially if you're dealing with the chaos found at the Leonard home. NBC's Mike Leonard takes you inside his hectic and amusing work environment.
The studio was emotional as Cathy and members of the Leonard family were there to see him off. Fans reacted online, too:
Tears this morning as @todayshow and all of us say good-bye to Mike Leonard. He is the quintessential story teller.— Janet Tyler (@Janet_Tyler) December 13, 2012
More than anyone else, I will miss Mike Leonard on TV..he is the most amazing writer and storyteller in our generation!— shelley rottenberg (@srottenberg) December 13, 2012
Mike Leonard - admired for always celebrating the important moments in life. A gifted storyteller! @todayshow— Stephanie Oppenheim (@toyportfolio) December 13, 2012
Thanks, Mike, for 32 amazing years!
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