ST. LOUIS — Ronald A. Leggett, who was St. Louis’ collector of revenue for 30 years, died Thursday at his home. He was 88.
Leggett, a Democrat and one of his era’s longest-serving city elected officials known for his smile and quick wit, first got the job in 1977, when he was named by then-Gov. Joseph Teasdale to fill a vacancy.
He was elected to a full four-year term in 1978 and reelected six times, retiring in 2006. With more than 100 employees, the office is one of the city’s largest patronage agencies and collects property, earnings and other taxes.
Year after year, city residents got used to writing checks addressed to Ronald A. Leggett, collector.
Leggett graduated from the old Southwest High School and, after earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Washington University, went to work in the insurance field.
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In his 30s, he decided to change careers, earning a law degree at the University of Louisville. He returned home and worked as an assistant circuit attorney and also got involved in politics, eventually getting the collector’s appointment.
Tom Vollmer, an aide to Leggett who now works for current collector Gregory Daly, said Leggett was the first in the job to allow residents to pay property tax bills at banks across the city.
He also began the state Revenue Department license office at City Hall, allowing residents to renew vehicle plates and driver’s licenses in the same building where they can get property tax receipts and birth certificates.
Leggett also became known over the years for his collection of classic cars, at one point owning at least 30 of them and housing many in rented space in other St. Louisans’ garages.
A daughter, Samantha Leggett of St. Louis, said a childhood visit with his grandfather to the Indianapolis 500 helped stir a lifelong interest in cars.
“I’m the Humane Society for Old Cars,” Leggett was quoted as saying in a 1994 Post-Dispatch article. “The World’s Largest Collection of Cars That Don’t Run.”
He was a member of St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and the Box 8 Club — a group of firefighting buffs — and had been a Boy Scouts leader.
Among other survivors are another daughter, Vanessa Berra of south St. Louis County; a son, Ron Leggett Jr. of Tallahassee, Florida; six grandchildren and a great-grandson.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois Road, South County. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joan of Arc Church, 5800 Oleatha Avenue, with burial in Resurrection Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Backstoppers Inc. or Shriners Hospital for Children.