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Richard "Dick" Leger

Leger, Richard "Dick"
did not stand still. In the past 12 months, he skied Telluride, Lake Tahoe and Termas de Chilan in Chile. His 80th birthday party brought police asking him to turn down the volume (he didn't). He drove to Houston to see his first great-grandchild, attended a wedding in Jamaica and returned to Houston for Christmas (this time by air). It was the capstone of an amazing life that ended Jan. 15. Dick - Poppy to his grandkids -- was born April 30, 1932, the youngest of 15 children raised on a small San Miguel County, N.M., ranch. His father died when Dick was 7. Two years later, with the older boys fighting World War II, the family moved to Las Vegas, N.M. Dick
earned an engineering degree at New Mexico State University, where he also found a wife, MaryLu. Their first date was on her 16th birthday, and they remained a team for nearly 60 years. After four years as an Air Force pilot, Dick returned to Las Cruces. He worked at White Sands Missile Range, then joined a computer-sales company. He and fellow salesmen bought the company as it neared bankruptcy; under their leadership it won national recognition. He continued to fly a single-engine plane and was a life member of the Commemorative Air Force. The couple raised three children, helped start the community theater, cheered the NMSU basketball team to the Final Four. He won the title of Mesilla Valley Chile King, and was usually the first one up, cooking breakfast, when he visited family and friends. In 1986, Dick moved his office to Scottsdale, continuing to run the company into his 70s. After retirement, he sold furniture, light bulbs and the Spanish Yellow Pages. He became a mystery shopper, and in 2008 was named the national "Go To" shopper of the year. He excelled at spoiling his six grandchildren. He golfed at every opportunity, and skied on three continents. But there is more to life than a resume. An eternal optimist who found the good in everyone, Dick lived life as it is meant to be. Liver cancer was only a distraction. Appointments were scheduled around his trips, not the other way around. No obstacle was insurmountable: whether being rolled over by a horse as a child or falling off a truck in his 70s. And there were no strangers. Share a drink in a bar, a ride on a ski lift or a chance pairing on a golf course, and you were his friend. That characteristic made him a great salesman and a better person. His final days were filled with visits and laughter at his quips. He was a consummate volunteer, supporting Make A Wish, Improving Chandler Area Neighborhoods, The Centers for Habilitation and many other charities. After MaryLu died, he took on her role as a tutor and pencil pal.
Family was his first love, and he was wrapped in their love in his final days.
Dick is survived by his children, Robert (Cindy) of Fountain Hills, LeighAnn Melancon of Clovis, N.M, and Kevin (LeNetta) of Chandler; grandchildren Sarah Gruba (Chris and their daughter, Miah) of Houston, Stephanie Sehorn of Dallas, Brent and Phillip of Chandler and Andrew and Joshua of Fountain Hills, two brothers and two sisters. Dick's ashes will be mixed with MaryLu's and spread on his family's ancestral property in Lourdes, N.M. Family and friends will gather at his home Tuesday afternoon to celebrate his life. Memorial donations may be made to or The Centers for Habilitation.


Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 20, 2013
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