James Leroy Nottingham Sr. Captain, Commissioner, Coach

September 6, 1937 - August 1, 2022

On September 6th, 1937, George and Josephine Nottingham welcomed their son James “Leroy” Nottingham into the world in Fort Myers, Florida. He joined sisters, Betty, Georgia May, Irene and later, brother Frank, baby sister Alice and half-sister Marie.

Leroy went to Fort Myers High School and played football, his junior and senior year they were undefeated. He was later inducted into the Fort Myers High School Hall of Fame. On that football field friendships were fostered that lasted a lifetime. Upon graduation in 1957 he was offered numerous scholarships to play for colleges across the country. He settled on University of Tennessee.

In 1957 Leroy married his high school sweetheart Bonita Jean (Bonnie) Hager, together they had four children. They were together for 67 years before he was heartbreakingly preceded in death by his devoted wife Bonnie on March 1st, 2021.

Leroy became a firefighter on June 3rd,1963. Leroy was proud to be a firefighter, to serve his community, his strength and fearless nature had found a place to shine. He remained in service for the next 60 years, retiring as a Captain in 1994 and serving as the North Fort Myers Fire Commissioner till his passing. Tragically, a terrible automobile accident in a fire truck in 1964 would change the course of his life, he sustained a broken back in the accident and spent over a year in traction. The aftermath of the accident bore a man on a mission, a man that would fight for rights of all first responders. Leroy established the Southwest Florida Professional Firefighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 1826 Union Chapter in Lee County. Leroy worked for decades in Tallahassee during session promoting bills that helped his fellow first responders. In 1999 his tireless dedication got the pension fund pushed through changing the lives of every first responder in the state to come behind him. In 2019 the Local 1826 Leroy Nottingham Firefighter & Paramedic Benevolent Fund Inc. created to honor his legacy of community service.

His service also extended to the younger generation of the community, he was President and Coach of the Little League Association and a Pop Warner Football. Some he coached went to the Majors Leagues and many he inspired to follow him in to the fire service.

The project closest to his heart was his life long support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he organized the firefighter boot drives and other fund raising events throughout the years. He appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in Vegas for 22 years straight. In a strange twist of fate his beloved great-grandson Carter Rhodes would be born with one of the rarest forms of Muscular Dystrophy in 2013. Leroy’s knowledge gave direction and found support to help Carter’s continued battle.

He was also the owner and operator of Novelty Concrete for decades. A teacher at the Fire College, had his realtor license and his auctioneer license.

They say firefighters never die, they just burn forever in the hearts of the people lives they saved. Leroy saved many people in so many ways; from running into burning buildings, or running the halls of the Florida State Capitol, raising money to help those with Muscular Dystrophy, or just teaching a kid to throw a killer curveball…to list all he has contributed in his nearly 85 years is impossible. Using the word hero to describe Leroy Nottingham not only seems fitting, but necessary.

Memorial Services will be held on Wednesday, August 24th at 10:00am at McGregor Baptist Church, 3750 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33966. Immediately following the services a reception will be held at Leroy’s favorite spot, Biggie’s Place, 3701 Fowler Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901. For those not able to attend please visit the link below where the service will be streaming live. https://vimeo.com/741855900/cd5bf0941e

Leroy is survived by his sister, Irene Hendry and her husband, Leonard, Alice Prevatt and her husband, Dickie, all of Fort Myers, his brother, Frank Nottingham and his wife, Missy of North Carolina; half-sister, Marie Pittman of Okeechobee; his four incredibly proud children, James Leroy Nottingham, Jr. of North Fort Myers, Mark Nottingham and his wife, Teresa of Cape Coral, Dale Nottingham and his wife, Jayne of Tennessee, Valarie Storm of North Fort Myers; his grandchildren, Clinton Nottingham, Johnny Nottingham, Tara Rhodes and her husband, Dan Rhodes, Brittany Chapman and her husband, Garrett Chapman, Mason Storm Sullivan and Cody Nottingham, step-grandchild, Shelby Coles; great-grandchildren, Bradley Nottingham and Carter Rhodes; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.

In Lieu of flowers, The Family asks that any charitable donations be made in remembrance to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Checks can be mailed to SWFL Professional Firefighters & Paramedics, in C/O of MDA 12651 McGregor Blvd. #203 Fort Myers, FL 33919.

Mullins Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Cape Coral, is entrusted with final care.


  1. Denise Fox and family Aug 13, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    We loved you dearly Uncle Leroy! You will be missed by so many, but never forgotten! Heaven is certainly your home now, and you are seeing so many loved ones that passed before you! Your family will miss you terribly, but knowing you are there will help to ease the pain. “Go rest high on “Your” Mountain, Son Your work on Earth is Done!” We are so sorry to lose you, but humbled and proud to have been a part of your family. Forever in our hearts, and never forgotten, we love you!!

  2. Shonda Katz Aug 13, 2022 at 11:31 pm

    Leroy impacted the lives and hearts of many people. His legacy will continue to live through his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. May he rest in peace and may he be reunited with his love Bonnie. Both will be and are missed terribly by all of us that loved them.

  3. Richard Steele Aug 14, 2022 at 7:54 am

    Sorry for your family’s loss Johnny. I heard stories about him from some other firefighter friends of mine and always wondered if you were related. He was a great man.

  4. Marie Ibach Aug 14, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    We all miss you and love you! You were the rock of our family. Now you are with your beloved Bonnie and able to be another guardian angel for us all. We love you and are thankful for all the good you did for the family and so many others

  5. Bobbi Harrison Aug 24, 2022 at 9:07 am

    Leroy it was a honor to have known you, our community was a better place with your presence and those things you rooted will continue to grow. I know some fine firemen greeted you on heaven’s shore when GOD dispatched you home. On behalf of the family of ROSWELL KING, we send our sincerest condolences and lift your family up in prayer for comfort and faith during this very sad time and in the days to come.
    Barbara (Bobbi) Baker Harrison,
    Carol King Baker, Sam Baker,
    Sherry Baker Groff, Amanda Harrison Ballard & families

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