Leonard E. Leach
May 28, 1920 – October 2, 2019
Leonard Eugene Leach died at the age of 99 in Loveland, Colorado on October 2, 2019. Leonard was born May 28th, 1920 to Daniel Webster Leach (jr) and Bessie Mae (Knosp) Leach on the family farm north of Dorchester, Nebraska. The youngest of four children, Leonard grew up in the Dorchester area and attended Dorchester public schools where he graduated in 1937. After High School he worked on the family farm, attended classes at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln) focusing on agriculture, and learned the aircraft sheet metal trade. In late 1940 he took a job working for Curtis Wright Aircraft Company in Buffalo, New York where he helped build the P-40 Warhawk. He then worked for Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas building twin engine trainers, the Waco CG-4A glider used in Europe, and the B-29 bomber (Cessna-Boeing).
He married Virginia Lorene Rardin of Dorchester, Nebraska on February 14, 1941. They immediately moved to Wichita where he worked for Cessna. In 1944 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Army Air Corp after basic training because of his aircraft construction experience. Basic training was at Buckley Field and the Lowry field in Denver, followed by Lincoln, NE. After basic training he was stationed at Ardmore, Oklahoma which was an Army pilot training facility. As he succinctly put it, he helped repair the training aircraft whose landings were less than stellar. Overnight they would get the planes ready for the next day’s round of training with most of them were B-17’s. After Ardmore he was stationed at McCook NE and finally to Salt Lake City Utah where he was attached to the medical corp. While stationed in McCook he received orders to report to SE Asia as part of an Aircraft maintenance group, specifically airframe maintenance and repair. Three days before his scheduled departure the war ended with the Japanese surrender. In 2010 Leonard was able to go to Washington D.C. on the Northern Colorado Honor flight. He met veterans there who flew P-40’s in China, one who was a medic on the 15 passenger troop gliders that he helped to build and others who just shared a common history. It was a re-connection with his generation
After his discharge in 1946, Leonard farmed in western and then southeastern Nebraska, eventually settling down in the area where he grew up. In addition to farming family owned land, he purchased an adjacent parcel and leased others. He primarily raised seed corn, as well as wheat and alfalfa. He was one of the first to drill irrigation wells in the area and was proud of being a top producer in Saline County for a number of years. Due to health concerns he relocated to Longmont, Colorado in 1962 where he and Virginia owned a retail store until the early 1980’s. While they owned the store, Virginia discovered her talents in oil painting and loved to share her work with family and customers. In 1980 Virginia was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed to the disease in July of 1985. They were married for 44 years at the time of her death and shared many special times together.
On September 20, 1986 Leonard married Wilma Allen of Westminster, Colorado. Theirs’s was a relationship that was rooted in common history and common acquaintances even though they didn’t realize it at the time. One of Wilma’s close friends was Dad’s cousin and she decided to play match-maker. At the time of his death they had been married for 33 years.
Leonard was preceded in death by his parents and his three siblings; Ruth Murray, Edna Marie Avers and Russell Leach. He is survived by his wife Wilma, his three sons; Bruce (Sharon) Leach of Austin, Texas. Dale (Diane) Leach of Fort Collins, Colorado and Gene (Debbie) Leach of Greeley, Colorado, and his step-daughter Patsy (Ace) Rogen of Mesquite, Nevada. He is also survived by six grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Leonard and Wilma seemed to have the travel bug, or at least the relocation bug. By their count, they have lived in nine different locations since their marriage, including Loveland (3 different times and locations) Fort Collins, Tucson, Oro Valley, Las Cruces, Grand Junction, and Windsor. Their travels generated an interest in antiques and eventually buying & selling antiques. They crafted unique “Eggs” from Ostrich and Emu eggs, Leonard collected Match Safes and later coins. He has had a wide variety of interests, all of which tended to keep him mentally sharp. He loved to read and research things on the internet until his sight no longer allowed it.
In 1947 Leonard made a decision that would change his life and the lives of those around him. His Salvation was only the beginning of this new journey through life, one that many saw in his spirit and his demeanor. He shared the gospel not so much with his words but with his actions. His Christian faith grew stronger as his years increased and we were the beneficiaries of his smile, his sense of humor, and his abundant heart. 72 years ago, he set his sights on Heaven. He has now finished his journey with his mission accomplished.
- High Plains Honor Flight
- Visitation Sunday, October 6, 2019
- Memorial Service Monday, October 7, 2019
- Reception Following the Service Monday, October 7, 2019
Leonard E. Leach
October 6, 2019
I am so sorry to hear of Leonard's passing.
A tree has been planted in a National Forest to honor Leonard's memory.
Leonard will be dearly missed and you will have a vast amount of cherished memories! I will cherish my memories and conversations.
I was not aware Leonard helped build the Waco CG-4A glider. My uncle (17th. Airborne, 193 / 194 Glider Infantry) had his last flight on March 24, 1945 Varsity Invasion. He was KIA near Wessel Germany.
October 5, 2019
Leonard was a wonderful kind hearted man with a great smile that always made you feel special and loved. He will certainly be missed but heaven has gained a special man who we anxiously wait to see again. Thoughts and prayers