Leon Ivan DeGarmo
Born July 3, 1934
"No one's death comes
to pass without making some impression, and those close to the deceased inherit
part of the liberated soul and become richer in their humaneness."
The following was written by all five of Lee's children as a celebration of the life of their father. They believe this is the way that Lee would have wanted all of us to share this day.
Leon Ivan DeGarmo was born on July 3rd, 1934, on a farm in Highland, Michigan, the youngest of nine children, to Raymond and Mila DeGarmo.
Dad's early years were spent on the farm where he was born, many times to be found following around his oldest brother A.D. When Dad was about 14 years old, he went to work at a Shell gas station where the workers and patrons began calling him "Pee Wee" because of his small size. He has been known for most of his life by this nick-name.
One early memory Dad related to us was that every day, he and his sisters and brothers had to take a spoon full of cod liver oil. He was always the first one in line to receive his and then he'd run around to the back of the line to get seconds.
Another memory was about his bicycle. Dad taught himself to ride by pushing his bike up the slope to the barn door, hopping on his bike and taking off down the slope. In order to get his bike to stop, he'd have to fall because his legs didn't reach the ground. He claimed to have the fastest bike in the neighborhood because he was constantly taking it apart, cleaning and greasing the parts and putting it back together again.
Dad began his early education at Highland Township School in the Oakland County Public School System. He entered Milford High School in 1948. He was a member of the Future Farmers of America and graduated in 1952. The motto for the graduating class was, "Forward forever, backward never, within ourselves our future lies." Dad's personal motto, as noted in his yearbook, was "Take life easy, you live but once." His class will stated, "I, Leon DeGarmo, will my ability to move quickly to Everett Donaldson." It was said of Dad in the class prophesy, "Leon will become the physical education instructor at Vassar" (an all girls school). The senior interview posed the question, "Can you imagine Leon DeGarmo hurrying?" His pet peeve was walking and the song attributed to him was "Slow Poke."
For the next five years, Dad worked a variety of jobs until entering military service with the United States Army on May 7th, 1957. During his service he was a radio operator, a motor vehicle driver and a mechanic badge driver, spending most of his time in Germany. He was honorably discharged on April 27th, 1959, and remained on active reserves until May 6th, 1963. Dad said of his military career that he had never met anyone who had an easier tour of service than himself. He was fortunate to have served at a time of peace.
From his military service, he went to work for Parks Installation in Milford, owned by Roy Parks, for about 21 years and was a member of the Pipefitters Union, Local 636, since 1972. He was a dedicated worker even through his injuries including the times when he hit his toe with a jack hammer and when he got a metal splinter in his eye, not even complaining until the splinter began to rust.
In 1960, Dad married Patricia McCurdy and they remained married for 18 years. They had five children; Tracy Lynn, Leslie Ann, Blaine Lee, Tamra Marie and Brent A.D.
Dad was a committee member in a Dance Club to which he belonged for five years. Over the years he enjoyed snowmobiling, motorcycling, bowling, playing poker, fishing and watching the grass grow.
He was always thinking and often had words of wisdom, such as, "The less you talk, the more you learn." Dad was simple and easy-going and always seemed to find a positive for every negative in life. As he began to bald, he decided that it just meant that he wouldn't have to hassle with shampoo any longer, but just be able to use a washcloth to wash his hair. He didn't complain, dealing with whatever life threw his way. He wanted people to have a sense of humor and was always giving you a wink to let you know when he was kidding.
Dad lived in Texas for a couple of years then moved back to Michigan, to New Baltimore where he lived until March of 1995. At that time he moved to Novi to live with Leslie and finally went to a doctor where he was diagnosed with emphysema. The past year has been spent dealing with his illness and spending greater amounts of time with all of us. Dad died at home, peacefully and quietly while he slept.
The following are individual memories and thoughts that we have about Dad that we wanted to share with all of you today.