|Birth: ||Dec. 17, 1926|
|Death: ||Mar. 10, 2004|
[Note: his name may properly be Ralph George Leigh. According to early censuses, he was called Ralph, but somewhere along the way this was dropped and he became known as George. There are some early indications that Ralph was his true first name and George his middle, but later in life he insisted that George was his name and that he had no middle name. I've yet to see a birth certificate to prove anything.]
George Leigh was born to William and Martha Lubbe Kehmptzow Leigh in Detroit, Michigan. George was the youngest of 9 children; his eldest sister was nearly 20 years his senior. Being so much younger than all his siblings, George seems to have been treated almost as one of their own kids.
George grew up in the Detroit area, and met his wife Estelle Ostby there. They married in 1948 and had three kids: Liana, Glenn (Dani), and Laurie. George was a hard worker - a boiler operator for many years - and a loving husband and father.
George served honorably in the US Navy in both World War II and the Korean War. Although - like all of his military brothers - he saw horrors in combat, by all accounts he loved the Navy, bringing back many photos taken overseas on sightseeing excursions with his mates. He served proudly aboard the USS Bassett, one of the ships that first encountered the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis after its bombing and engaged in rescue and recovery of its crew. George was only 18 when, as one of three lead boatmen on a small boat launched by the Bassett, he pulled aboard fellow sailors, both alive and dead.
George was a loving grandfather of 6. After he and Estelle moved to Alpena in the mid-80s, to live out their golden years in the peace and beauty of the Northern Michigan countryside, he continued to be a loving presence in their lives. He gave his granddaughters nicknames that he used right up until he passed. Some of my fondest memories are of visits to his home in Alpena. I loved playing in the woods, picking wild berries and running around by the creek, but I also loved sitting in my grandpa's chair - he would pretend to be gruff when he saw me sitting in it, but he really didn't mind - and eating the candy kept in the jar there. I loved waking up early in the morning to the sounds of him listening to the news radio, filling in his daily crossword, and talking with family over a cup of coffee.
Estelle passed away in December of 2003 in hospice, with George right by her side. Even though by all accounts he was the "sicker" of the two, having been diagnosed with cancer a year before, it was almost as if he stuck around just to see Estelle off safely. We hoped and hoped til the very end that he could beat the cancer, but it wasn't to be. Just before he died, he was able to get out of bed for the first time in months; he watched the hockey game and drank a pop just like he used to do. It was bittersweet because the nurses told us that there's often a last burst of energy right before the end, and they were right. He died less than two days later and received a funeral with full military honors.
George is much missed by his family. I have a little box of trinkets he left behind that I love to pick through now and then, because it feels like he's back in the room with me when I smile at those little pins and medals. He has 6 great-grandchildren now, only 1 of whom he ever got to meet. We all love and miss him every day and hope to someday see him again.
William E Leigh (1882 - 1952)
Martha Lubbe Kehmptzow Leigh (1885 - 1956)
Estelle Lorraine Ostby Leigh (1927 - 2003)
Glenn Dani Leigh (1952 - 2006)*
Infant Leigh (1905 - 1905)*
Mabel F Leigh (1909 - 1912)*
William E Leigh (1910 - 1975)*
George Ralph Leigh (1926 - 2004)
Pilgrims Rest Cemetery
Created by: sweetjuno
Record added: May 16, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 26856614