One of the architects for the growth and development of the nation’s largest Independent telephone company, Leslie Warner was also a major contributor to the growth and development of the Independent industry. He started his telephone career as a trainee with AT&T Long Lines immediately after his graduation from high school in 1929. Following his college education at Wichita State University and Harvard University, he joined Automatic Electric Company in 1937.
During the course of his career, Warner served as president of several of the principal manufacturing and sales subsidiaries of General Telephone and Electronics Corporation. In 1957 he was elected executive vice president-manufacturing of GTE. He was elected president of GTE in 1961, chief executive officer in 1966 and chairman in 1971. He relinquished the post of president in 1972 and continued as chairman and chief executive officer of GTE until his retirement in 1976.
Significant among his contributions to the industry was his role in helping Independent companies meet the demands for growth following World War II. His leadership and integrity in keeping lines of supply open and in making special credit arrangements were instrumental in the post-war progress of many Independent companies. Warner served on USITA’s Board of Directors from 1954 to 1958, and from 1962-1967. He also served on the executive committee from 1962 to 1963 and received USITA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1972. He died in 1982.