Charles (Charlie) Albert Leap died at home in DeBeque, Colo., on May 31, 2013, at age 71. A military burial service was held June 21, 2013, at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Grand Junction, Colo.
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Born Feb. 16, 1942, in Indio, Calif., Charlie arrived in Fairbanks with his family in summer 1957. He adapted to his new home as if he was born and raised in Alaska. He was proud to be in the first graduating class of Monroe Catholic High School that prepared him for further studies at the University of Alaska.
Charlie entered the U.S. Army in 1964 and fought in Vietnam with the First Infantry Division, 36 Artillery, 10 Field Command. During his tour of duty he was exposed to Agent Orange, which caused many health problems later in life. He spent the latter days of his life in and out of VA hospitals until the end when he went home and peacefully enjoyed his final days.
Charlie's sense of humor and artistic ability was ever so unique. His pipeline and political cartoons seemed simple, but also complex. Though funny, they expressed his philosophy of true concern for his fellow man and the world we all live in. Examples of his artwork have been published in many journals and publications. While working for NOAA as a graphic artist, Charlie learned, perfected and taught various artistic techniques using a computer to all who wanted to learn.
His eight-foot-tall "Flup Bird" sculpture won the fine arts grand prize at the Tanana Valley State Fair. "It's the sound it makes when laying an egg!" was his response when anyone asked how he named what could only be described as a giant mutant Sesame Street Big Bird. Old timers might remember it being displayed in a Lemeta backyard for several years before it was sold to the owner of The Bird House Bar, at Bird Creek, south of Anchorage. It stood in front of the bar for several years and likely was destroyed when the bar burned down, but its memory lives in many a tourist photographs.
While living in Anchorage for a short time, Charlie got a job as a hotel night auditor. This led to a similar job when he moved back to Fairbanks. When offered a supervisory management position, he transferred to the resort hotel at the Grand Canyon. He then was transferred to the resort hotel in Death Valley and then again back to the Grand Canyon before returning home to Fairbanks.
Charlie was involved in politics and the Democratic party. Although he was never elected to public office, he was an important campaign worker for George McGovern, Nick Begich, Fred Brown and other Democrats. At one time, he held the position of chairman of the Interior Democratic Party, and was a delegate at the state Democratic Convention in 1972. He also spent some time in Juneau as a legislative aide for Fred Brown and as a lobbyist for the Tanana Chiefs Conference.
Charlie was a proud member of the Teamsters Local 959. Although he could drive just about any rig, Charlie found his niche as a warehouseman. Working on the DEW Line and at Clear Air Force Station prepared him to be the first warehouse foreman hired by H.C. Price during the building of Section 3 of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. When pipeline construction was winding down, Charlie went to work for Flour Alaska during the construction of Pump stations 2 and 7.
Charlie loved to have a good time and always tried to make sure people around him had a good time. His famous Everclear fruit punches and frozen margaritas made people walk into walls, but they always had a smile on their face as their lips smacked the floor.
Charlie's favorite saying was "It is what it is." Those who met or knew him will always remember and miss him. May he rest in peace, dear friend and brother to mankind.
He was preceded in death by his father, Roderick Leap, and mother Hazel Grayson Leap. He is survived by his wife, Andrea Ramsauer Leap; daughters, Anissa and Morgan Leap; sister, Cynthia Leap Holeman; and brothers, Roderick Jr., George and Peter.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Aug. 1, 2013