Gene Robert Leedy
February 6, 1928 – November 24, 2018
GENE ROBERT LEEDY
Winter Haven – Gene Robert Leedy (90) passed away peacefully on Nov. 24, 2018. An original member of the world renowned “Sarasota School” mid-century architecture movement, Leedy went on to design hundreds of remarkable structures across the state of Florida and beyond. His most notable buildings include the University of South Florida President’s House, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house at the University of Florida, First National Bank of Cape Canaveral, Brentwood Elementary School and the Syd Solomon Residence on Siesta Key. Winter Haven, however, is the indisputable epicenter of Leedy’s prolific architectural career. Leedy’s contributions to this Central Florida town include its award-winning City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, Country Club, Garden Center and the multitude of important commercial and residential buildings including the Strang Residence, Dormon Residence, Sands Residence, Ellison Residence, Brogden Residence, Sparrow Residence, and the widely-celebrated Craney Spec Homes.
He was born in Isaban, WV on Feb. 6, 1928 (along with a twin sister Helen who died shortly after birth) to Ethyl and Cecil Leedy.
Leedy was an early achiever who read aloud at age two, built a log cabin at nine and enrolled in the University of Florida at 16. He later served in the US Air Force. He moved to Sarasota, FL and became the first employee of noted architect, Paul Rudolph, and is recognized as one of the pioneers of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Although Rudolph later invited him to join Yale’s faculty, Leedy chose to base his practice in Winter Haven, FL.
He designed projects throughout the US including Hawaii as well as a large housing project for the government of Malaysia. He was extensively published in the US and Europe and received more than 50 architectural awards. This recognition included Architectural Record’s Successful Young Architects in 1965, the Lifetime Design Achievement Award from the Florida Association of Architects, and the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Florida’s College of Architecture. Leedy was installed into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1992 and received the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ Medal of Honor in 2014.
Leedy is well known for his innovative and pioneering use of pre-cast concrete structural systems as he often incorporated mass-produced industrial building components into designs for offices and residences. His signature style is easily recognized by its exposed structural systems, concrete blocks, enclosed courtyards, flat roofs, and sliding glass doors. Additionally, many of Leedy’s designs incorporate “passive-design” concepts that include cross-ventilation, day-lighting, and the use of generous overhangs for sun protection. Some of his Central Florida work has been commemorated in The Leedy Lifetime Works Tour organized by Main Street Winter Haven.
Gene Leedy was known for his strong ego, inappropriate stories, and his love of scotch, cigars, and women. His children cordially invite friends and fans to celebrate his legendary life at the Winter Haven Garden Club on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 5-7 p.m.
He was preceded in death by Marjorie, his wife of 50 years, and is survived by his four children, Ingram Leedy (Marissa), Saffie Farris (Jeff), Robert Leedy (Vicky), Helen Patterson (Joel), five grandchildren (Robert Ingram Ellerman, Elise Leedy, Gram Leedy, Jack Farris, and Gabriella Leedy), his loving companion of eight years Cassie Jacoby and Golden Retriever Maggie Mae, and his great friend Jimmy Smathers. He considered his award-winning protégés, architects Lawrence Scarpa and Max Strang, extended family and was honored to have them both carry on his passion for great architecture.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Winter Haven Community Foundation (GiveWell) in memory of Gene Leedy for the preservation of his work at givecf.org.
- He was preceded in death by Marjorie, his wife of 50 years, and is survived by his four children, Ingram Leedy (Marissa), Saffie Farris (Jeff), Robert Leedy (Vicky), Helen Patterson (Joel), five grandchildren (Robert Ingram Ellerman, Elise Leedy, Gram Leedy, Jack Farris, and Gabriella Leedy), his loving companion of eight years Cassie Jacoby and Golden Retriever Maggie Mae, and his great friend Jimmy Smathers. He considered his award-winning protégés, architects Lawrence Scarpa and Max Strang, extended family and was honored to have them both carry on his passion for great architecture
- Celebration of his Legendary Life Thursday, November 29, 2018
Gene Robert Leedy
December 9, 2018
Gene and my Dad were very close. Gene was a special man in plain ol Winter Haven. There were many special people in winter Haven. I was lucky to grow up there and know them. God's speed Gene.