Long time Juneau resident LeRoy Messing died peacefully in his sleep on September 7, 2012 –his 82ND birthday– at Sunnyside Care Center in Salem, Oregon.
LeRoy was born in Minden City, Michigan & grew up on the family dairy farm. As a teenager during WWII he volunteered as an Early Enemy Aircraft Spotter. At the war's end he served in the civilian graves & registration service for eastern Michigan. He loved to play piano by ear and build model airplanes, making most by hand with balsa wood. He married Jean Murray on November 21, 1953 at Schmitt's Corner Catholic Church near Ubly, MI and started their life together on their own farm later to bring many children into their flock. By overwhelming majority he was elected constable for Delaware Township in 1954. Leroy's adventurous spirit and desire to become a police officer caused him to consider leaving the farm life behind. To begin that cycle of great change for his family he took a job in a nearby factory making auto parts while also still working the farm and studying to earn his GED. Ten, in June 1965, he packed up the wife and 8 kids in a '57 Buick Special sedan towing a foldout tent-camper and headed north to Alaska!
After arriving in Juneau LeRoy helped build Glacier View Trailer Park and Horton's Auke Bay Hardware in 1965-66 (now UAS Book Store). In 1966 he worked security & janitor duties at the airport. In August that year he began working at the Juneau Police Dept's City jail then standing on the hill now occupied by the Alaska State Office Bldg. Te jail later transferred to the State of Alaska & LeRoy became a Correctional Officer upon opening of the newly built Lemon Creek Correctional Center (LCCC). He earned promotions at LCCC, retiring in1982 as a Senior Sergeant. Leroy was active in the community as a member of St Paul's Catholic Church serving as usher and lector as well as being a charter member of the St Vincent de Paul Juneau Conference, holding positions of Treasurer, Juneau Council President, and as a board member. He was a member of the Alaska Peace Officers Assoc and the Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers and received leters of commendation from 4 of Alaska's governors as well as awards from organizations such as the Jaycees. During his career he and Jean added 5 children to their flock. In his later retirement, until unable, he enjoyed writing letters and cards to family and friends and collected thousands of Price-Smasher stamps to be used for St Vincent de Paul food purchases.
LeRoy was preceded in death by his parents Elmer and Alma; sister, Marcella (died @ 10 wks old); brother, Vincent; brothers in-law Ray Block and Jerry Keys; granddaughter Geolanda (Whiteley) Schmidt; son-in-law, George Whiteley, Sr; infant twin grandson & granddaughter Timothy & Kimberly Messing; great-granddaughter, Geneva Harris; and daughter-in-law, Kathleen (O'Rourke) Messing.
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and 13 children. Those living in Juneau are Stephen, Deanna (Chris) Lewis, Linda Whiteley, Kevin (Angie Parker), Martin (Kathy), Brian (Marie), Jennifer (Paul) Rodriguez, Jason (Doniece Got), and Celeste (Brian) Walker. Surviving children outside Juneau are Michael (Shelley) of Bellingham, WA; Sharon (Al) Jones of Waterbury, VT; Terese (Chris) Rummell of Salem, OR; and Mathew (Kristin) of Portland, OR. LeRoy is also survived by 7 brothers and 7 sisters all of whom live spread out among the lower 48 states as well as by 37 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren –most living in Juneau.
LeRoy lived a full life. His family and others who knew him would likely describe him as a man of few words; but he said what he meant, and he meant what he said. One of this writer's favorite expressions uttered often by him was "and I'm not saying another word about it".
A mass will be held 1:00 PM on Saturday, November 10, 2012, at St Paul's Catholic Church and will be immediately followed by a Life Celebration at the church hall at approximately 2:15 PM where finger foods & soft drinks will be provided.
In lieu of flowers and gifts of money, donations can be made to the Society of St Vincent de Paul ( htp://svdpjuneau.org )or Hospice and Home Care (Catholic Community Services) in Juneau, Alaska. ( htp://www.ccsjuneau.org )
Published in The Juneau Empire from Nov. 7 to Dec. 7, 2012