Cover photo for Donald M. Leebern, Jr.'s Obituary
Donald M. Leebern, Jr. Profile Photo
1938 Donald M. Leebern, Jr. 2024

Donald M. Leebern, Jr.

August 30, 1938 — April 27, 2024

Athens, GA

Entered into rest on April 27, Donald M. Leebern Jr., age 85, born August 30, 1938.

A native of Columbus, Georgia, Don Leebern graduated from Columbus High School in 1956 and attended the University of Georgia and later completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. The proud Georgia Bulldog was active in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, the “G” Club and played varsity football in 1957-59. Furthermore, he was a member of the 1959 SEC championship football team and the 1960 Orange Bowl championship team.

Upon leaving the University of Georgia, he joined the family business, Georgia Crown Distributing Co., first working as a sales representative and later as a sales manager until 1968 when he became President of Georgia Crown. After taking the helm and under his leadership, the company continued to grow into a highly successful wholesaler and importer of liquor, wine, beer and water products. In 1992 he became Chairman of the Board of the company.  

A believer in public service and “giving back” to his beloved native state, Don Leebern was appointed by Georgia’s Governor Zell Miller to the University System Board of Regents in 1991, served five consecutive terms, including as Regents chairman during 1994-95, and completed his final term in 2019 when he became a Regent Emeritus.

Along with his business success, Don Leebern was also known by a wide circle of business associates, family and friends for his big heart, larger-than-life personality, and deeply generous spirit. He was a founding member of the University System of Georgia Foundation, as well as a member of numerous professional, civic, and social organizations.  He served as past chairman of the board and past president of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, as well as past chairman of the board and past president of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia. 

Don Leebern was especially proud to be honored with the Georgia Athletic Association’s 2002 “Circle of Distinction Award” and with the University System of Georgia Foundation’s 2011 Eldridge McMillan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Family members include his beloved Suzanne; son and daughter-in-law Donald M. Leebern III and Stacey Van Allen Leebern; daughter and son-in-law Gantt Leebern Shadburn and T. Christopher Shadburn; grandsons Donald M. Leebern IV (Rachel Parker), Thomas Christopher Shadburn III and Nicholas Gantt Shadburn; granddaughters Lily Grace Leebern and Lawson Van Allen Leebern; Suzanne’s son Adam Yoculan (Tatiana), daughter Ali Yoculan Ericksen (Brent), and grandchildren Alex Yoculan, Adalee Yoculan, Evie Ericksen, Laney Ericksen and Kai Ericksen.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to UCBC Cares Foundation, 3320 Old Jefferson Road, Building 800, Athens, GA 30607.

Graveside services will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2024 at 1:00PM at Evergreen Memorial Park, Athens, GA.

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, WEST, Watkinsville, GA is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald M. Leebern, Jr., please visit our flower store.

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Thursday, May 2, 2024

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