LeeRoy’s Profile

LeeRoy Wisner was born in September 1936 and grew up in Lewis County in Southwest Washington on a 80 acre farm (stump ranch) that had a creek running thru the back yard.  This property had about 30 acres of cleared land with the rest in small timber or brush, commonly then known as a stump ranch .  

He was the oldest of 5 children.  In those early years, the family did not lack the necessities of life, but his mother being the head of finances, had to carefully manage their finances.  This also meant that his father became a Jack-of all Trades, originally a logger, then a County rock crusher foreman and a part time farmer.  His father was self taught and could repair everything from fixing the family car, welding type repairs, even carpentry/electrical, including building, and then rebuilding the family house as the family increased in size.   LeeRoy, being the oldest, got an early education into all this

 And during those early days, the family raised a few cattle, and sold the milk, so since living very near a creek, in the summer the 10 gallon milk cans were held in a dug out deepened enclosure in the creek to keep it cool until just before the milk truck came to pick it up. 

 

Raising the cattle, also entailed being your own veterinarian, which among other things included, castrating the young bull calves and pigs, using a knife, as this was before the rubber castration bands came into being. 

 

They also raised 3,000 commercial fryers at a time for a number of years along an occasional hog and always a 2 year old steer for meat, along with deer hunting in the fall.  The fryer raising also meant that at come selling time, getting up at before midnight, catching chickens so the truck could be on it’s way to the processing plant by 2AM.  

 

He remembers the effects of WWII on the US people.  He had older cousins serving in this operation.  During this time, ration cards were issued and used by civilians, restricting the purchases of gasoline, tires, sugar and even shoes.  At this time, they lived at the beginning of a dead end road that the military had training maneuvers in practicing to protect the military installed airplane lookout on a ridge at the upper end of the valley.  During one training session, two soldiers were temporarily stationed UNDER the family milk stand along the road near the mail box, and his patriotic mother baked an apple pie for them.  One of the cannons they used, fired wooden 4″ diameter training bullets.  

 

The family had telephone service because his father was the line repairman for a small phone company in that area and he had cut/installed the poles the 1/4 mile from the main road to their residence to string the lines on.  During the WWII an airplane lookout was built on a hill in the upper part of the valley, the military extended the phone line to the lookout.  For this military line, all the poles here were split cedar as compared to the normal commercial smaller round cedar or treated fir poles.  And after the war, this line was turned over to civilians, giving all the other neighbors in that area phone service.The same was true with electrical power, for them and the neighbor.  The neighbor supplied the poles for PUD, so these two homes at the start of that road had electrical power.  After the war, PUD extended the line to the rest of the residents up the creek.

 

During the war years his father cut and sold telephone poles using hand powered “6′ misery whip saws” (before small chainsaws were readily available, OR affordable).  These operations were usually a “selective thinning operation”, meaning they only took out the trees that fit the criteria needed.  After these poles were cut, they were drug out to a landing using a horse, which caused little disturbance to the remaining standing timber that was left.  Once on the landing they were peeled of the bark before being shipped.  LeeRoy’s summer job when he was 8 or 9 years old was to ride the horse from the thinning/logging location out to the landing, unhook the horse from the poles, then make the return trip, getting paid 10 cents a pole (earning enough to by a new Columbia bicycle at a cost of $41.50).  This bicycle being built during wartime where rubber was rationed, and had lathe turned wooden handlebar grips.

 

He distinctly remembers the day the war ended as he was at a neighbor’s where they were thrashing grain, using horse drawn wagons at that farm.   The farmers wife who had been listening to the radio, came running out screaming “The War is Over”.  

 

He and his siblings would walk the county roads near the home, picking up empty pop and beer bottles.  For their effort they could sell them at the local country store for 1 cent for the beer and 2 cents for the pop bottles, (if clean), otherwise they had to be washed inside and out.He and younger sister picked strawberries commercially for a neighbor.  Another lady and daughter who lived farther up the creek, also picked, and would stop by with her husband’s old 1941 Chev pickup on the way to the berry patch and pick up the picking recruits along the way, who simply rode in the open bed.  Then later, he and sister also picked cucumbers commercially for a farmer friend of their parents.

 

During the summer months, on the low land property they owned, he would help his father cut down trees for the family’s winter firewood supply.  These were cut into manageable lengths (6′) with an axe and a 6′ misery whip crosscut saw(again before powersaws), which were then sawed into 16″ lengths and hauled/stacked in the woodshed in the fall of the year.  This sawing consisted in using a 36″ diameter sled mounted buzz saw, powered by a 1 HP single cylinder Fairbanks Morse “Hit and Miss” water cooled single cylinder gas engine.  In this process, they ultimately cleared about 5 acres of land that provided more pasture for the cattle.

 

Since a creek ran thru the family property, he learned how to fish for cutthroat trout at a early age, supplementing the family’s food supply at times using a 5 1/2′ True Temper steel casting rod, which was quickly abandoned in favor of a steel telescope rod.  

His first Blacktail deer was shot with a single-shot 22RF at about the age of 11 or 12 under the watchful eye of his father.  During his high school years he earned money during the winter by running a trap line catching muskrat, raccoon, weasel and mink, as at that time, beaver were protected.  This was done before school using a flashlight two days a week and then on weekends.  His mother purchased (with his earned farm work money) a used Harrington & Richardson model 922  22RF revolver to use on this trapping venture.  This was a start into his handgun usage/hunting.  He became good enough with it that he later used this pistol to also shoot alder limbs off trees across the creek to recover his hung up, but then valuable fishing spinners. 

His uncle had given him a old 16ga single shot shotgun, which he learned to use quite well, for ducks, grouse and a few pheasants.  With it he shot his first pheasant on the wing under the guidance of a grandfather.  He did some early youthful gunsmithing on a old Stevens Favorite 32RF rifle that proved the young farm-boy’s ideas had merit, but the equipment needed in dad’s shop to finish the job correctly was lacking when it came to barrel/chamber work.   His first successful gunsmithing job was when he was a sophomore in high school, on a Winchester model 06  22 RF pump rifle which had seen many years as an Alaskan Eskimo’s survival gun, (and needing MANY repairs).  He traded a little red wagon to a neighbor boy who had moved nearby from Alaska for this rusty gem.

His early youthful summers were spent peeling, drying then selling Cascara bark which was used to make a laxative.  Later into his teen age years, he worked for local farmers harvesting hay, cannery peas and in the fall helping with threshing grain.  This started with the old stationary threshing machines and horse drawn wagons, and when new technology came into being then up to a tractor towable grain combine.  Another summer he helped re-roof an old hay storage barn.  Then in the fall of the year, the Washington State DNR and Weyerhaeuser would buy green Douglas fir cones to be used for the seeds in their nursery/reforestation programs.  They got $2.00 a full tied gunny sack.  The trick was to find a location where the squirrels were cutting their winter supply and confiscate the cones that they had cut and were laying on the ground.  And they (the squirrels) were not bashful in telling us what they thought about the robbery situation.

His father borrowed a rundown small sawmill, rebuilt it, and from timber on the property they sawed enough lumber to build a large chicken house in which fryers were then raised.  There was always the summer hay to put in the barn for the milk cow and beef animal, where he learned to drive the 1936 Oldsmobile (as they had no tractor) pulling the hay loaded fork overhead into the barn to be dumped in the barn’s hay mow.   Then there was always firewood that needed to be cut by hand and buzz sawed into stove lengths during the fall for the winters heating wood, and a large garden to help tend during the summer.  Then apples and pears to pick in the fall of the year.

His last two years of high school, he stayed and worked on a large local dairy farm, milking cows and helping with all the other farming.  While there, he replaced the farmers 1947 GMC truck engine, while the other boys were sweating in the field putting in cannery peas.   With the money earned there, he bought a used 1941 Chevrolet club coupe for $350, and then gasoline was 26 cents a gallon, but it was still hard (even at that price) to keep the fuel tank anywhere NEAR topped off.  So he always carried a 2 gallon metal can of gas in the trunk, JUST IN CASE.

During High school, one of his interests was in the woodworking shop class, where he made furniture (night stands, beds, coffee tables and a cedar chest).   One project turned to restocking the old single shot shotgun and the restored the old 22 Winchester rifle.  The woodshop instructor did not object, even offered support, and acceptable replacement stocks were made from walnut wood.  A older schoolmate boy saw these, and needed the broken stock replaced for his 22 rifle, and a gun stockmaker was born.   

During his senior year in school, the English teacher assigned a report on “What I want to do after I graduate”.  His essay was about him wanting to become a gunsmith.  His report included in detail the trade school he wanted to attend, the books he would need and the equipment that would also be needed.  Unknown to him at the time, his mother kept that paper, only to give it to him years later when he was indeed running a full time gunsmithing business.

His aunt and uncle owned a fishing tackle business in Westport Washington from the mid/late 1950s on, tying and selling salmon fishing mooching leaders to the large salmon fishing fleet’s charter boat offices.  The early years there, they fished for salmon out of 16′ and 18′ rental open cedar strip built or plywood rental boats with were powered by a 7 1/2 hp or 10 hp outboard motors owned by his uncle and later by him.  At that time the south jetty went all the way to very close to buoy #8 (along this jetty was a deep slot at that time where Chinook liked to stay).  Their fishing concentrated along this jetty and out across the bar a slack tide to buoy #4 or #6.  And on a slow catching, but calm day, we even went WAY OUT to Westport’s buoy #2.  

Later the uncle leased a old converted lifeboat and many days were spent Chinook salmon fishing.   With this larger boat the fishing moved from inside the south jetty, (the common location with the smaller outboard boats) to out into the open ocean.  And in those days no radio, depth-finder, GPS or even a compass was used, so staying within sight of the buoys was critical.  For a depthfinder they just used their mooching lead/leader herring bait, by letting it to the bottom, (and counting the pulls (2′) of line out for the depth) and as for navigation, they were always within sight of land and never went out in the fog.

During his high school years, he took vocational welding night classes at the local Jr. College because there was nothing offered in his high school.  Having already taken the two welding classes, he also signed up for the next one, but talked the instructor into allowing him to learn to use the metal lathe in conjunction with rebuilding/welding a neighbors wrecked boat trailer axle.  This college shop really did no metal fabrication at that time and the lathe was military surplus and just sitting in the other corner of the shop.  These trailer rebuild repairs paid for the class fee and he got to learn how to use a metal lathe for building and threading (after screwing up the threads, requiring them to be built back up by welded over, turned down and starting over) of a new axle spindle.

After graduation, his plan was to work for the local farmers during the summer, hopefully earning enough to register at the gunsmithing trade school.   But he decided to extended his stay a bit to do the fall deer hunting season, then a bit later, planning for the winter quarter at the trade school, Trinidad Jr. College in Trinidad Colorado.    There was a few weeks between the fall farm labor and hunting season, giving him time to finish a new gunstock for an old 7.7mm Japanese military rifle he was converting into a hunting rifle for himself.  During this period of time, a local logger/mill owner, who’s wife was a friend of LeeRoy’s mother, called, looking for a log haul helper in his large portable sawmill.  OK, why not postpone the college for a year, which seemed fine and to be able to earn more money for the gunsmithing schooling.   However at the same time there was a young lady high school friend he had been dating for over 3 years, which seemed the possibility of becoming serious.   Then a year later she dumped him.   

As winter of 1955 set in, the sawmill shut down temporarily because of FREEZING weather where the mill could not saw the log’s frozen log’s sapwood as this ice fractured enough that the sawdust turned to powder, which could not be effectively removed from the kerf and heated the saw so bad it would not run straight.   He and a hunting buddy (who was also working as a logger but in Oregon and were also shut down) went to Seattle and applied for work at Boeing Aircraft Co.  LeeRoy got hired for day shift as a draftsman working on the Bomarc guided missile program, this would have been because of the drafting class he had taken during his senior year in high school and the extra year correspondence drafting course he had taken after graduating.  His buddy got hired bucking rivets on night shift building the then new commercial 707, or the military version, the KC135.  So they rented a room in a apartment house at the base of Queen Anne hill that was in the area now occupied by one of the Space Needle’s parking lot.

Within 5 months of moving to Seattle, the buddy volunteered for the Navy and shortly later, and LeeRoy got a phone call from his old sawmill boss wanting him to come back and become his sawyer in the sawmill.  Being a farm boy in a big city, and at 19 years of age with the possibility of a good wage based on hourly, or commission depending on his ability, he took the advantage of a tail-wind and headed home, glad to have had the opportunity to expand his drafting knowledge and a temporary life in a big city, BUT country boy living appealed to him much better.  He was very humbled by being offered that very specialized type a job at his young age.   

He, having been around this sawmill for about 1 1/2 years, and doing some sawing in dad’s saw mill at home, he quickly learned the sawing trade well, and the next few years the sawmill business flourished.  This logging/milling operation was portable whereas the mill was moved out into the logging areas of about a 35 mile radius from the boss’s home and his parents did not live far away.   He was the youngest of the crew, but since he was now sawyer and on commission salary, it was to his benefit that if anything broke down, if the boss was not there, then for LeeRoy to see that it got fixed.  This could include welding broken metal parts or electrical troubleshooting on the mill.  Before long, he became foreman over the crew of 12 men when the boss was away doing other business.  Using his repair/welding/electrical experience he also soon became an accomplished millwright with a lot of general logging experience thrown in, which involved falling and bucking timber, setting chokers, cat skinner, cable line splicer, truck driver and even a tad bit of high climbing.  

He became re-acquainted with another young lady schoolmate, they got married, bought property, built their own house and started to raise a family.   This house was built with 1,000 SF on the ground floor and a full basement utilizing cement blocks for the basement walls, and it had two fireplaces, one in the basement and the other upstairs which were designed to be used to provide heat to the whole house.  The lumber for this house was from a condemned house that he and his father tore down that had belonged to a widowed relative.  He did all the blueprint drawing, building including carpentry, masonry, electrical and plumbing of both the house and later a 3 car garage/shop.  He also finished hand digging a water well, using 4′ dia. reject concrete manhole tile, going 16′ deep in the existing spring/well on this property.

He was called up for the military draft during the Korean War, but flunked the physical because of his bad eye, and then for many years later carried the 4F draft card.  Many years later (1972) that eye was replaced with a prosthesis.

All the while he did all his own automobile engine rebuild and repairs along with some body work, even some engine repairs for others, earning side money for his hunting desires.  One of these personal remodel jobs was converting a 1956 Chevrolet 4 door station wagon into an El-Camino style pickup.

At this same time, hunting did not disappear from his mind.  Working in timber country and having access to much logged off land, deer hunting was good to him and his father, and then to the buddy after he come home from his military service.   In those years Blacktail deer were very plentiful in Western Washington.  There were many deer taken by this hunting party, and under his fathers eye, field dressing and butchering the family’s yearly meat supply soon became second nature.  Elk hunting was not as productive, but worthwhile none the less.   Not being able to afford a 4 wheel drive Jeep, he bought and restored a 1929 Ford Model A roadster pickup that served the hunting party well in traveling old logging roads and cat trails.

All this time he did gunsmithing on his own guns.  It was while making up a 7mm military model 95 Mauser into a sporting type hunting rifle for his wife that he wanted/needed to take it to the local gunsmith to have the barrel removed and lathe turned down to more sportier contour to fit the new stock he was making for her.  In this stubborn barrel removal process this “gunsmith” bent the barrel, but did not have the ability to straighten it, causing more delays of sending it off to another more accomplished gunsmith.  

LeeRoy was there when the barrel was bent and it did not take long to figure out that he could probably do better himself.  So in 1959, he applied for and got his first FFL (Federal Firearms License) along with a state business license, entitling him to operate a business, where he officially opened a gunsmithing shop.  He did this in the basement of the new home that he had recently built and then later moved it to the garage when that was built.  Initially he used his fathers Oxy/Acetylene welding set before acquiring his own.  He bought a used drill press and metal lathe, cut a top off a junker car to build sheet steel blueing tanks and had the makings of a gunsmith profession well on the way, mostly being learned by reading books and seat of the pants experimentation.

They were blessed with two children, a boy and girl.

In 1960 the mill owner had a heart attach, the lumber market prices fell to the point that the sawmill was sold, the crew was downsized and then only did regular logging on a smaller scale after that.  LeeRoy picked up many odd jobs as truck driving or carpentry for a few months, even cleanup person (floor sweeper) in a large plywood veneer mill, then a full time job as maintenance mechanic for 2 years at a local frozen foods processing plant.  From there he moved to a more stable position (less hectic during the processing season) as plant mechanic for the State of Washington at a Juvenile detention center for boys in Chehalis Washington.  Here he worked for 14 years, working himself up to Plant Manager for the last 2 years of that employment.  Before his promotion to Plant Manager he also worked after hours as a vocational welding instructor at that facility, teaching the inmates to weld.  

As a Plant Manager, he was in charge of 21 tradesmen being responsible for overseeing all of the maintenance and operations of the whole 200 bed facility.  This included all building repair, heating/air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, janitorial, painting, along with maintaining 2 large steam boilers which provided heat for the whole complex.  Also in that operation, they did their own laundry, automobile repairs for the fleet, and gardening/greenhouse/grounds keeping.  As plant mechanic, he was personally in charge of refrigeration maintenance for the main kitchen, and locksmith for the whole institution along with most of the lathe/machine work and welding.

Mixed in this time also, he even worked evenings and Saturdays as a motorcycle mechanic for a couple of years, bought a new BSA 350 Enduro brush bike and was co-founder of the Centralia Mudslingers motorcycle enduro/hill climbing club in 1964.

Early on during his state employment, he built a 12′ plywood boat in the basement of the home one winter and used it extensively fishing for blueback salmon in the coastal Willapa and North River systems, with an occasional trip to Hood Canal.  From that, the yearn for salt water and salmon fishing re-grew.  He then bought a unfinished plywood hull of a 22′ inboard boat, finished it and installed a Plymouth 318ci V8 inboard engine in it.  

Westport and ocean fishing here we come.  The first couple of years it was used as a sport salmon fishing boat.  After that, a commercial trolling license was purchased and the boat was set up as a “Kelper type” commercial salmon troller for a number of years.  The first few years of commercial fishing they (his old hunting buddy helping) could use sport fishing gear, of which they normally ran 6 sport rods.  About 1970 or so the law was changed and they had to move to stationary gear, or “Gurdies”.   Fishing was done week-ends, holidays and vacation time.  At one time he tried to calculate the number of times he had crossed the Grays Harbor bar.  That number easily exceeded 1000.

During this fishing venture, radio communication on the boat was imperative.  He purchased and assembled from kit form, CB radios for the boat, 2 vehicles and a base station.

During this time, his gunsmithing business was growing, but his home was out in the rural area a considerable distance, restricting drive by/walk-in word of mouth traffic in the door.  In January of 1974, he and the wife had the chance to trade property for some on a main highway.  The deal was made and the detached garage at the new location was converted into a retail sporting goods and gun repair shop.   Initially his wife ran the retail shop during the day, with he and their young (12 year old) son working afternoons, nights and week-ends.

His part time gunsmithing business was growing enough that a decision had to be made, which resulted with the commercial fishing coming to an end, regretfully selling the boat and the license.

After four years at the new location, the gunshop/gunsmithing business grew to where he decided to quit the state employment and go full time as a small business owner.  His reputation as a gunsmith expanded over the next 15 years to where he finally became warranty repair for 8 major US firearms manufacturers.   The crew was expanded to 4 full time gunsmiths plus himself, his wife as a book-keeper and a counter sales person were employed.   He outgrew the home based shop, so moved the business into the closest town, leasing a building in a prime location in Chehalis.  While there, the business was the largest gunsmith repair facility on the US west coast.   He had attended many factory seminars and trips to the eastern factories for extended warranty training, but continued the School of Hard Knocks.

Again, early on in being a business owner, to be on the leading edge of technology, he purchased a computer in kit form and assembled it himself.  Many of you now do not even know about having to use a 5 1/2″ floppy to store the start program and with VERY limited storage capacity.  As time changed, so did the computer needs to include business inventory and later creating a business website.   Again created mostly by “seat of the pants” learning.

While running the gunsmithing business which included the necessity of making many of his own obsolete gun parts, so while he had the gun apart doing a repair or reblueing, he would draw the part with exact dimensions so that he had information on how to build or reweld/repair a part, if another of the same model came along later.  With his drafting career paving the way, he hand drew a 500 page loose-leaf book titled “LeeRoy Wisner’s  Handbook of Hard to Find Gunparts” which was published by Brownells in 1979 and was still available in bound form until 2016.  Currently a addendum of 300 CAD drawn pages has been completed.  Now both the original book plus the addendum is now in the process of the family self publishing them.

Three of the four gunsmiths were hired thru/or from gunsmithing trade schools/colleges.  There was always a problem hiring qualified gunsmiths for the level of repairs his shop was known for.   It seems that a gunsmith school graduate is only a slightly educated apprentice in the actual gunsmithing business (as acknowledged by the school instructors to prospective employers), but when the students graduate, they are handed a gunsmith diploma, (two different things in the real world).  He would give guidance when needed or if he was asked, but it was impossible to do postgraduate on the job training to all of them (he tried).   It finally got to where he had so much business and the inept gunsmiths were causing them/him to have to redo nearly 1/2 of the repairs before the customer would be notified.  A close look at the books and the gunsmithing end was not holding up well financially because of these redos.  

At this same time President Clinton was pushing for more restrictive gun legislation, his 5 year building lease was expiring, one gunsmith went for a gunsmiths instructorship job interview while another went on vacation to his mother-in-laws in the mid-west, then called saying he was coming back but putting his home up for sale, AND another gunsmith had ruined 3 brand new rifle barrels.  All this within a two month period of time.  There was not really any quick cure, and he himself could not do it all, as the yearly number of repairs totaled over 3500, so a hard decision was made between him and his wife to stop buying merchandise during the mid summer, sell what was in inventory, and shut the business down at the end of rifle elk hunting season in the late fall of the year.  

While running the business in town, he had Sundays off.  The yearning for salmon fishing had not disappeared.   A used 17′ fiberglass Glasply boat with a 50HP Johnson outboard motor and trailer was purchased, and salmon fishing was on again.  With one Chinook over 35# taken by his younger brother at Westport on a steelhead rod.  

All this time he also was still running the other part of the business which was manufacturing obsolete firearm parts, because they were not available anywhere else.   This being in the old shop building at home, utilizing himself part time and one other machinist employee.   When the main gunshop business was shut down in late 1994, the sideline parts business was greatly expanded.  Some machinery was moved back to the old location, other machinery was purchased including computer controlled CNC milling machines and a CNC lathe to speed up and produce product to closer tolerances than could be held by a hand operated turret lathe.  But all this required new learning for him in CNC computer programming, which entailed a VERY STEEP learning curve.  

Also at this time, he had a grind stone blow up on startup of a tool and cutter grinder where he was standing in the wrong location and major fragments of the stone hit him on the left eyebrow, breaking his glasses.   But the safety lens protected his only eye.  However that blow was so hard that it shook loose material inside the eye, creating floaters.   This was so bad that he had to quit hunting and competitive pistol shooting.   Then about15 years later he had a partial detached retina of this eye.   This required emergency laser surgery, which as a secondary situation, broke up many of the floaters to where his vision got better.

Thru his association with the major firearm manufacturers, some obsolete factory gun parts tooling was purchased from them.  Large punch presses were obtained for that tooling to be used in, allowing him to be the only place in the world to manufacture some of these obsolete rifle magazines and associated other small gun parts.  In these later punch press operations, he had to then learn tool and die repair/making to fabricate these parts.

His son who had worked with him many years had branched off doing custom gunsmithing and manufacturing obsolete parts that LeeRoy was not making.  Eventually the son bought the family manufacturing business, merged some of his business in the mix when LeeRoy and his wife retired when she turned 65 in 2003.

When the ocean salmon population started to decline about 1990, LeeRoy decided that he had better learn to fish for Puget Sound Blackmouth salmon.  He answered a add in Fishing and Hunting News magazine on how to learn the Puget Sound salmon fishery.  This seminar held in a private garage in Gig Harbor was probably a forerunner of Salmon University.   From this association with the instructors, he joined Puget Sound Anglers, and later became their state board’s webmaster.   

At this initial seminar, he took notes and utilized the printed material given out.  At this time, John Keizer (one of the instructors) was writing for the F&H bi-monthly magazine.  If John would add to any info in F&H News articles that LeeRoy did not have, he would add John’s info to a bunch of notes he was keeping, mainly leader lengths and other gear information, as LeeRoy wanted all this newly learned information in one location that he had access to, and did not forget it.  Somewhere along the line, this leader lengths info got written into an article and posted on the PSA website.  Then, when that one page article got to be VERY VERY long, it was broken up into many differenttitled articles.  These articles were expanded to and became what is now LeeRoy’s Ramblings website.

The 17′ boat was sold and a 20′ Tiderunner cabin boat took it’s place, using the royalty off his recently published gun parts book to pay for it.  This newer larger boat covered many trips from the Columbia River north to Neah Bay, and into Canadian waters, Port Townsend and into South Puget Sound with his son as copilot/deckhand.  The grandsons also enjoyed ocean salmon fishing out of the boat.  

But when the son bought their business in 2003, he (the son) had no extra time and the other grandsons had moved to Montana.   LeeRoy’s wife did not ocean fish, as if they encountered possible rough water because of a previous back injury, so the boat sat for a few years (partly because of he being so busy with the business) and with no one to fish with, along with this large a boat was not something easy for one person to launch/recover, much less fish out of alone.  It was sold, and now the replacement boat is a 2005 aluminum 18′ North River powered by a Evinrude 75hp E-Tec motor.  This boat is not in any way the offshore boat that the Tiderunner was, but if he watches the weather and using his seamanship knowledge, he can venture out across the bar, it will catch fish there with him at the helm, and it is more conducive to fishing alone in if he can not find a partner to go along, and the motor’s fuel economy is a lot better.   Oh yes, there is a smaller, fully outfitted and restored 1974, 14″ aluminum boat and a 1990 15hp restored outboard motor sitting in his barn for use as a river/lake boat.

All the while, he did his own outboard motor repair.  This became another section in LeeRoy’s Ramblings covering many “how to – outboard motor articles” going beyond most factory outboard repair manuals.  From these articles, he gives answers online to many do-it-yourselfers worldwide.  Also while running the gunshop, to help customers identify firearms parts needed and some inherent problems with each gun, which in the long run, which would cut down customer inquiries/questions, he wrote many gun identification and repair articles, which are also now on posted LeeRoy’s Ramblings.

The property they live on has been home to hives of bees, a flock of chickens, rabbits, sheep, raising and breeding trail horses, and lastly raising and breeding Pinsgauer beef cattle.  The horses were used to ride in the high country scouting for elk and for meat packing when needed.  These are all behind them now in the retirement years and not being tied down to a schedule, except the wife’s cat.  And the garden spot seems to be getting smaller each year.

All the while his civic duties and volunteering was not idle.  Early in his adult life he was a Boy Scout scoutmaster (however he had never been a Boy Scout himself).  He gave over 25 years to Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife as a Hunter Education Safety Instructor.  He became an annual member of NRA in 1958 and then a Life member in 1971, and later upgraded to an Endowment member, and was a certified NRA firearms instructor for many years along being range safety officer for the local rifle and pistol club, being elected the first pistol division president for that club.  Using his NRA certification, he taught the NRA’s “Eddy Eagle” firearms education program in the local grade schools.  During this timeframe, he was instrumental with other NRA members, a lawyer and sheriff who put together a home defense firearms class designed especially for women (where the numbers taught totaled over 700).  And he is also a longtime member of the NRA affiliated PeEll Sportsman club.

He is a charter member and past president (2005/2006) of a local chapter of Puget Sound Anglers (that he helped organize in 1998) and volunteered many years as South Sound (Olympia) Chapter’s webmaster which he finally found a qualified replacement as of 7-2017.  During this PSA’s association, he introduced or exposed many new members to his style and areas of salmon/bottom fishing.  

He has sat on many WDFW salmon, bottom-fish and halibut citizen advisory committees, and in 2004 was appointed to the Grays Harbor Basin ad-hoc advisory committee.   Along with his appointment of the WDFW fish advisory committee for the Grays Harbor basin, when the newly formed Willapa Bay advisory committee was formed a few years later, he was appointed to that one also, helping guide these fisheries until 2016 when he stepped down as it became clear that the decisions had already been made, but he still stays active (asking pointed questions) in how/what was important to that fishery. And at this time, he was becoming a 24 hour caregiver for his wife, who needed him more than WDFW.

He was a founding member (2007) of the first Coastal Conservation Association  chapter (Lewis County) in the state of Washington and is that chapter’s current treasurer.  This organization is a national group who promote fish enhancement by using lobbyists who try to influence legislative action.   He was one of three who volunteered to redesign the CCA Washington website when CCA Pacific Northwest split into separate state chapters (Washington and Oregon). 

He also sat on the local school district’s vocational advisory committee when the new Adna middle/high school was being built in 1992, helping design the vocational shop area and guide the vocational teaching curriculum.  He also donated a new Lincoln electric welder and large jig saw to the shop program.

When the Chehalis River valley flood of 2007 came along, he used his outboard jet sled boat to transport stranded people from their home as darkness set in and the water kept rising.  And the following week helped shovel 10″ of muck out of local commercial greenhouses that were effected by this flood with 50″ of water in these greenhouses resulting in 1/2 a million dollar loss.  

He volunteered to help the local Historical Society in their time of need.  Has been a 48 year member of the Masonic organization where he is Past Master (1981) and was the local organization’s Treasurer for many years.  He was also a member of the lodge Temple Board (ownership & governing body), which in turn means being involved in building maintenance.  Then as the Covid19 virus caused economic shutdown, because of financial issues, he was instrumental in helping the selling the lodge building.  And that organization merged with another local lodge, where he currently sits on their advisory Temple, and Finance Committee Boards.

He was also instrumental in the early 1980s of forming a group of hunters who petitioned the Washington Game Commission, arranged for public meetings and convinced the new game director/commission to change the way deer hunting was done in the state by eliminating open oven unrestricted doe seasons, but restrict doe killing to permits only and then only when the population warranted a harvest.  He was also one of the lead entities in the changes in allowing handgun hunting in Washington state and help write/rewrite the handgun hunting regulations.

During his whole life, he attended the “School of Hard Knocks” of which one never graduates, and where each class is different, and long remembered.  This is one instance in life where the test is given before the book with answers are even written.  And he seems to have an uncanny ability to analyze and look into the future pertaining to business dealings.

In his whole married life, his hunting or fishing money never came out of the family budget, but from his sideline/after hours jobs, or personal firearms purchase/repair and reselling.

One of his cousins had been volunteering for WDFW raising Coho salmon from eggs and releasing 100,000 fingerlings each year into Deep Creek (a tributary of the Chehalis River).  It being 40 years in 2023.  When the cousin got sick and later passed away of brain cancer, LeeRoy volunteered to help out with this Remote Site Incubator (RSI) project, helping with all aspects plus doing the paperwork so that this project does not wither and die.  And has now passed that torch to the cousin’s offspring.

He grew up in a world where if things broke, you repaired them, many times better than original.  In doing this, you need to evaluate the situation thoroughly and understand why it failed, then redesign it if need be.  If man made it out of metal, man can repair it, however modern plastic production is in a whole different world.  In his world he can not comprehend the modern “Throw Away” mentality.  

He would like to be remembered as a humble, gentle man who tries to treat everyone like he would like them to treat him.  And in his older age, he does not hesitate to do what is right no matter who is on the receiving end of the stick.  However sometimes it is impossible to fix STUPID, even using Duct Tape.

Another of his community involvements is that at the age of 81 in 2018, his then total for donating blood to the Red Cross exceeds 176 pints, well above 20 gallons (160 pints), which was his one of his life goals, following his fathers footsteps.


His physical condition has for the most part been pretty well.  At a young age of 10, he jumped in the creek while swimming during the summer and landed on a broken quart glass jar, cutting most of the tendons on the bottom of his right foot.  After the old country doctor sewed them back, he remarked that LeeRoy would probably walk with a limp, (YEP).   

A few years later he cut his right eye with a jack-knife.   Thirty years later it became milky inside, the doctors tried to save it, but infection set in that they could not find a cure for, and after 5 months of excruciating pain, and then becoming addicted to prescribed high dosage pain pills, ultimately and with no recovery in sight, his decision was to remove this eye.  Many years later the other only eye developed a cataract which had to have a lens implant, which was not an easy task to find a qualified doctor at that time (1995) who was willing to operate on a one eyed person.  

And in late 2017 he was diagnosed with Wet Macular Degeneration in his only eye. This was probably partially caused by high blood pressure from the stress of 24 hour caring for his PLS disabled wife.  The end result, intravitreal injection method in the eye using monthly injections which seems to be marginally helping.  With this loss of some sight, (and having only one eye) especially fine work (like Gunsmithing or even welding) has had to be pretty much curtailed.  Fast forward 2023, by having monthly injections, and taking eye meds daily, his sight is slowly improving.

Over the years he has had numerous hits on the head requiring stitches.  In his sawmill job, not knowing in those years about hearing protection, which later in life has required him wearing Labor and Industries supplied hearing aids.  

In a early house remodel job his left index finger encountered a turning skill saw blade and the blade won.   Tennis elbow (torn elbow tendon) was encountered twice, both times doing repetitive strenuous volunteer work, re-roofing the local rifle/pistol range roof, and then cutting and splitting about 18 cords of firewood to help fund the Masonic Lodge’s building maintenance fund.   

Then falling through a extension ladder (when roofing a building) from 8′ up and landing flatfooted on concrete was not good for a knee.  And then in his retired years, (having a brain fart), falling off a swivel chair trying to change a light bulb in his computer room, led to shoulder rotator cuff surgery requiring reattachment of a tendon.   After that surgery was pretty well healed, Carpal Tunnel surgery became needed on both wrists.  During many winters, he has been plagued with Acute Bronchitis, requiring medication, and if not caught early on, resulting in pneumonia.  Then a few bouts of Diverticulitis have also been dealt with. 

As he ages, his having been exposed to industrial chemicals and dust in his gunsmithing years of extensive buffing of the metal before reblueing, he has now all of the symptoms of advanced Bronchitis and COPD.  The specialists also add to that, Asthma, and Sinus problems.  For years he has had a cough, OK now he finds out that the Sinus was the issue there, but the doctors say surgery will not cure it.  He, like many, have also been diagnosed with Arthritis of the low back and hips with deteriorated discs.  At this date 11-14-2023, it looks like there will be Physical Therapy, spinal injections, which if that does not help then minor surgery to remove a internal bone spur and a broken off floating bone.  And at times he also suffers from a feeble mind, (can not remember what he was going to do or where he left an item).   Other than that, a pretty normal life, and thankful for what he has.

He and the wife had traveled some from Alaska, Canada to Mexico, while her health was still good, and to the east coast with him on his firearm warranty re-certification trips.  He has hunted and/or fished in many states, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Canada and Mexico.  They have not made a lot of money, but have never went without the necessities of life.

He has had a very good life, beautiful and helpful wife, 2 wonderful kids, 3 grandsons, 3 great grand daughters and a great grandson.  The wife had for the last few years suffered from balance problems, stumbling and falling.  It took 18 months for numerous doctors to come up with what the they thought she had, which was a rare situation where her nerves from the brain seem to be dying and therefore not sending proper signals to the spinal cord which in turn feed the extremities that has similarities to a spinal cord injury.  It had become pretty obvious that the doctors do not really know much about it, (hence no cure) as they only treated the symptoms.  Her final diagnosis was Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS), which is a RARE slower form of ALS where her condition had deteriorated to being very weak, walking being downgraded to shuffling, then using a 4 wheeled walker, loss of voice and choking which brought about installation of a stomach feeding tube, and she then required 24 hour assistance.  This disease lasted for about 5 1/2 years and finally with the last few months on Hospice before she passed away in August of 2018.

Being retired, allows for more fishing but little hunting time, because of the COPD, taking into account of the “honeydew” home repair projects directed for safety of his wife, along with catching up on all his personal projects that had been postponed because of his busy business type lifestyle.    

Gunsmiths seem to acquire firearms of all different conditions of disrepair.  And since retirement, these initially  were in the process of being repaired and sold to pay for the fishing addiction.  Some of which have been donated to worthy young prospective hunters.

After the passing of his wife, he purchased a 21 year old (1996) used Class B Dodge LTV conversion RV van, which required major repairs, but now could allow him to tow his smaller boat, do some fishing and yet have a convenient place to hang his hat.  

In recently talking to a younger fishing friend, the mention of another older mutual friend who was experiencing health problems.  His age was brought up as an excuse for the decline, and being the same age as LeeRoy (83 at that time) it became glaringly obvious that he himself was now in that same category also.  The friend then in trying to smooth out his remarks, said “but how many guys do you know your age that are busy doing all the things that you are?”  After a few seconds of thinking, his answer was “Not many as they all have passed away”.  Kind of an awakening as he is now in that OLD generation standing on a banana peel on the edge of a cliff, and the clock is ticking louder.


In 2019, by chance, OR DEVINE DESIGN, he got together with a long time lady friend who had lost her spouse to cancer.  They shared his home in time of her medical need and were married in September of 2020.  He is very grateful that he has had the the chance to share time, and love with two very wonderful women.   And this one likes to fish, but her medical condition limits her activities to some degree.  She passed away in June of 2021 from complications of Congestive Heart Failure (caused by chemotherapy for her previous cancer treatments).

After her passing, he could not force himself to use the van and visit the places that they had dreamed about visiting, so the van was put up for sale  Then his low back pain pretty well limits his ability to drive it much anyway because of the seat not fitting him well.

He had trouble being short of breath for some time and the doctors he had for years seemed to not think it was not serious, just getting old ??   He, in later years always had high blood pressure but a low heart rate, which seemed no problem until the Red Cross blood donation nurses rejected him because of it.  The doctors apparently thought his main problem was his exposure to industrial contaminants (as he never smoked), but they were content to just give him some pills, an inhaler and “see you in six months”.   He finally took the offensive with a new primary Kaiser doctor in late October of 2020, and things started to happen,  NUMEROUS tests were done on his heart, and in early December underwent a heart catherization procedure, where they found two of the main arteries (LAD) blocked at (90% and 95%).  This condition was very close to having a “Widow Maker” heart attach.   Stents were installed and he came home the next day.  

Also he did not like his pulmonary doctor’s method of treating his COPD and was having to cough up a lot of phlegm all the time.   Another doctor change, and the COPD was labeled as being stabilized, however the coughing /spitting continued.  He then changed doctors again in September of 2021 for a second opinion, and this time it the COPD was considered not good, (possibly a 50% loss of lung function), but stabilized and the coughing/spitting was narrowed down to bronchial restrictions, or a possible allergy, which was somewhat treatable with inhalers for a better outcome.  

His second wife’s diagnosis and treatment was, in his mind, very badly directed.  The main hospital doctors were treating the symptoms, (mainly liver infection as non-viral hepatitis) but for the wrong reason.  The real reason was her heart had lost over 80% of it’s output volume, thereby not being able to flush out liver impurities, which was causing the liver issues and nausea.  In a 3 month stretch, she spent 45 days in 5 hospitals and one rehab center (that about killed her by overdosing of blood thinner), to where she lost over 20#, and became so bad that when they finally decided that she needed a gall bladder operation, (at LeeRoy’s suggestion after looking at a CT scan) but she was so frail that IF she had survived the operation, that she more than likely would not have been able to recover.  

They then sent her home on steroids and morphine, and put her on Hospice, which she survived only 7 days.  In his mind, he failed her because he could not convince the doctor that his thoughts on the gall bladder were of any importance because of her nausea, which directly effected her food intake and her Diabetic medications.  He now understands the military term PTSD.  They say time heals all wounds, NO not really, it simply places a thin scab over the wound that can get knocked off very easily by numerous and seemingly insignificant small things that others do not see, which bring back memories.

During this time the Covid 19 policies prohibited him from even visiting her in the hospitals.  Because of the extended stress, his heart then reverted back to a LOW heart rate (below 40 beats a minute) and an erratic heart rate.  More testing was done, and mid September of 2021 a pacemaker was installed.

During his time of caregiving, he had to have something to do to stay busy, but yet close by at a minutes notice form his wifes cell phone calls for assistance.  This evolved into restoring old small non running outboard motors (another addition to these articles).  Many of these were picked up at estate sales or donations from well meaning friends/neighbors.

And at this same timeframe, after being fitted with new eyeglasses, (but with no improvement) and seeing the optometrist again for a second opinion, he was told that because of his wet macular degeneration, and with only one eye, that what corrected eyesight he has now, is as good as it will ever be, and MAY decline.  OK, now is the time to re-valuate many things in his life.  However they were wrong and it has improved and now somewhat stabilized.

In early December 2021, he came down with pneumonia, (again) which also having COPD, rather compromised his breathing abilities.  But with him being proactive, catching it in time, and antibiotics won out again.

Early October 2023, it appeared that he was heading for another bout of Acute Bronchitis, and with his history of COPD, did not want it to advance to pneumonia, so checked himself into Urgent Care.  After all the tests were done, GUESS what, he now had Covid, along with the start of bronchitis, so, more HEAVY doses of antibiotics and Prednisone, and stay at home for a week.  Pro-activeness won again.

His pro-activeness in the last few years has probably saved his life more than once.   He is not that smart and does not own a Crystal Ball to see be able to see into the future.   It has to be that he was put on this earth to do a certain number of things, and it appears that all the boxes have not been checked off as of yet.

There are a few things that he has found during his lifetime, (1)  Be a GOOD listener with an open mind.  (2)  Don’t judge another person by their outward appearance, as some are very good at covering up their true feelings and then dealing with it later while alone.  (3) There is not a person that he has met that he did not learn something from (good or bad), but learned.  (4) You can not learn anything while YOU are talking, as what you hear is what you already know.  (5) Life is a school and you are there to learn, where the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.  (6) It is what you learn AFTER you KNOW IT ALL, that really counts. (7)   Money and trying to impress others has little meaning, as your health trumps it all.  (8) When an old person dies it is like a library has burned down.  That is one reason why he has documented so many things of his life on these pages.

He is not overly religious, but does believe in a Supreme Being, and tries to live up to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

He is very thankful just to take one day at a time and be able to wake up in the morning looking at the green side of the grass.