Described as a sportswriter with legendary concern for objectivity, integrity, sportsmanship, and the feelings of the people about whom he wrote, Bill Leffler left his mark as one of the top writers in the history of Virginia athletics. After 41 years of serving as a writer and editor, Leffler retired in 1996 having written more by-line stories than any other writer in the history of the Virginian-Pilot and Ledger Star. Leffler, a native of Mobile, Alabama, first began his writing career in 1954, when he joined the Portsmouth Star after a stint with the U.S. Air Force. He later joined the Norfolk newspapers in 1957.
The majority of Leffler’s career was spent covering prep athletes—a difficult task for many writers, but one that he handled with diplomacy and grace. He was a major influence and inspiration for many young athletes and was most noted as an unflagging promoter of high school athletics. His stories often highlighted deserving athletes’ great accomplishments and attracted college recruiters who might have otherwise overlooked these athletes. Although he was most known for his coverage of prep athletes, Leffler also covered every game played by the original Norfolk Neptunes football team.
Leffler did not limit himself to newspaper work; he was also very much involved in the community. His efforts and achievements within the community earned him the honor of being named Sportsman of the Year in 1987 by the Portsmouth Sports Club, a club of which he was president in 1960. He helped develop the Manor Youth Basketball Association, where he served as the first president and coached for five years. He also helped develop the Olive Branch Little League into a top little league in the area, as well as coached little, minor, and senior league baseball. In addition to his contributions to local sports, Leffler is currently active in church affairs and was the treasurer of the St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church for 15 years.
In describing Leffler, John Spence of the Portsmouth Sports Club said, “Bill has touched many young people in his writings and has been a strong force on the area sports scene for many years”.