Bass anglers in Southern California, and particularly in San Diego are mourning the loss of Paul Leader – one of the most charitable supporters of local bass fishing, who passed away Tuesday evening from cancer at the age of 79 while surrounded by his closest friends and family.

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  • As President and Owner Principal of El Cajon Ford since 1980, Paul Leader has been a champion of his community – particularly in the arena of tournament bass fishing. He’s generously sponsored hundreds of local bass tournaments including the most lucrative tournament in town; the 2-day, 2-lake El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Open held each summer since 1999. In addition to the Team Open, Leader’s El Cajon Ford has served as title sponsor of two of San Diego’s biggest tournament series’; the El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Night Series and El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Day Series.

    The El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Open will be held for the 19th year this upcoming Monday and Tuesday at El Capitan and San Vicente. This particular tournament has served as Leader’s way of honoring the many tournament fishing customers of El Cajon Ford through the years. This year’s event though will no doubt serve as a way for those tournament anglers to honor Leader, who not only supported these tournaments financially for decades, but competed personally in most of them.

    Leader, known as “the Godfather” of local bass fishing, was enshrined in the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park in 2002, as a charter inductee of the San Diego Bass Fishing Hall of Fame by the San Diego Council of Bass Clubs, who maintain the exhibit. Leader is one of 9 members of the San Diego Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, recognized as one of the most influential members of the local bass fishing community.

    His Hall of Fame profile on the San Diego Council of Bass Clubs website reads;

    Across the USA, Paul Leader is recognized as one of the more enthusiastic supporters of the sport of bass fishing.  From humble beginnings 0n the back streets of Canada, he rose to success in western America as a prominent business man and entrepreneur.

    Paul is always involved in causes that promote the welfare and achievements of young people, giving to numerous charities including the San Diego Chargers Blood Drive.  He also served as the first San Diego County Chairman of the Ford Motor Company’s Salute to Education scholarship program.

    His impact on the San Diego County fishing community and concern for the well-being of the local lakes has been long-standing and far-reaching.  He is considered one of the most generous benefactors in in local history, regularly assisting organizations such as WON, The San Diego Council of Bass Clubs and the American Bass Association.

    His El Cajon Ford San Diego Team Open has become one of the major annual local events, created out of his desire to thank the fishermen of the Southwest for their involvement in the sport.  He’s also an award- winning competitor, with an eagerness to share his love of the sport of fishing with others.

    Paul Leader’s combination of passion, energy and enthusiasm is unequalled.  It’s a natural extension of his personal drive for excellence and service to his community.

    On this small and tight community, his impact was immeasurable, and his presence will be sorely missed. There was no one else like him, and there will never be another Paul Leader. Rest in Peace Godfather.

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    3 Comments

    1. Jan Prestella on

      Was the main sponsor of our show “Bass Weekly” for many years. Always there for us. Class act. Jan Prestella and Jerry Gusman wish his family the best. Thx Paul.

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