Meet John Leinweber! John is the President Board of Directors at Friendship Botanic Gardens. John is a Business Entrepreneur and has started four Document Imaging companies and has sold them to public companies. John has a partner-husband, James, of 38 years, has three daughters, and nine grandchildren. He has been actively involved in the community on many different Community Boards in Michiana. He has many hobbies, including cycling, golf, kayaking, boating, and he is a “wannabe cowboy.” He is a very charismatic individual and often referred to as “the life of the party.”
What brought you to the dunes and how long have you lived here? My mother always came here for the summer during the 1920s and 1930s and she always talked about her memories of Long Beach, thus it was a natural fit for me to explore the area to see the beauty for myself. In 1981 we purchased a home in Long Beach as a weekend and summer home initially. We have permanently lived here since 2006.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? The Dunes and the Michiana area are captivating and such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We love biking, hiking, all of the beach recreational opportunities, riding horses at our farm in La Porte called Firefly Farm, golfing at Briar Leaf Golf Club, and enjoying my 3 daughters and their families (9 Grandchildren!) for many gatherings and celebrations. Two of our daughters live in the area and our 3rd is considering moving here in a few years.
Tell us a secret about the dunes. The flora and fauna are extraordinary. With bogs, wetlands, sand dunes, different species of plants, trees, and birds make the dunes a fascinating environment to live in and enjoy.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
b) Biking through the National Lakeshore
c) Briar Leaf Golf Club and specifically the Men’s Club for golf and Portofino’s for a delicious lunch or dinner!
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? “Friendship Botanic Gardens is a remarkable piece of our history that’s long overdue for a rediscovery by the community. It’s something you just have to experience to fully appreciate. It’s like a botanic garden, a nature preserve, a statuary, and a museum rolled into one. Friendship Botanic Gardens has all of these lovingly cultivated gardens surrounded by pristine natural habitats — Lots of forested hillsides and wetlands with Trail Creek winding right through the middle of it all. It’s rich in cultural history as well. The Gardens were founded in 1936 based on an exhibit created by Virgil and Clarence Stauffer for the 1933 “Century of Progress” Chicago World’s Fair – which was all about scientific progress in the last century. It’s such a rich legacy that actually takes on an added relevance in the 21st century as we’re carving out a new identity based on both educational programs and big momentous cultural events like our “Music Under the Stars” summer concert series. No matter who you are — a scientist, an engineer, an artist, or just someone who appreciates natural beauty — there’s something for everyone at the Gardens.”
Anything else? Friendship Botanic Gardens is under new leadership merging past Board Members with new dynamic Community Leaders who are rejuvenating the gardens for our community to enjoy, as well as hosting many weddings, and increasing the number of cultural and educational events . We have two Music Under the Stars Concerts coming up– Karisa Wilson on July 23rd and The Crawpuppies on August 20th, the Lyric Opera on August 14th, and “Okto-Beer-Fest” on October 16th! Friendship Gardens is looking for volunteers to join us and our current volunteers as we create a legacy for the community. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 219.878.9885