Funeral services for Leland Landers were held Saturday, May 4, 2013, at the Gillette Christian Center with Pastor Clint Pickrel officiating. Burial followed in the Mt. Pisgah Cemetery.
Leland Rees Landers, age 93, of Gillette, Wyoming, passed on to his reward with his loved ones by his side on Monday, April 29, 2013, at Close To Home Hospice.
Leland was born on April 16, 1920, in Norfolk, Nebraska, to Leland G. and Mildred Price (Rees) Landers. Leland’s father stayed on the family ranch in Crook County, Inyan Kara Creek area, north of Upton, until Leland and his mother could join him in October 1920. They lived on the Inyan Kara Ranch until 1924. Then they moved to a small ranch in the Black Flats area near Sundance. Leland attended the Black Flats School until 1934. Leland’s sister Mildred remembered that Leland would tell wonderful make-believe animal stories on the 2½ mile horseback rides to and from school. In 1934, the family moved into Sundance where he played football and completed his education. After graduating from Sundance High School in May of 1939; he went on to further his education by attending the University of Wyoming where he joined the ROTC and graduated from the College of Agriculture with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and a Master’s Degree in Soil Science. Leland married his High School sweetheart, Gladys Pattinson, on March 20, 1942, in Laramie, Wyoming, and stayed in Laramie to continue their college education. On February 6, 1943, Leland was inducted into the Army. He was sent overseas with the 100th Infantry Division 397th Infantry Regiment on October 6, 1944. A shrapnel injury, for which he would receive the Purple Heart Medal, wounded him on December 11, 1945, but he soon returned to his unit in February 1946. During his time of service he also received the Combat Infantryman Expert Infantryman badge, American Service Medal, European African Middle Eastern Service Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal. In 1949, Leland was called back into active duty with the Army where he served until he was honorably discharged in 1952. On his return home, Leland and Gladys moved to Wheatland, Wyoming where he commuted to Laramie to complete his Master’s Degree in Science. On July 1, 1947 he and his wife moved to Gillette, where he became Superintendent of the University of Wyoming Experimental Farm. They remained there until the University of Wyoming closed the farm in August 1980. During that time Leland planted 800 to 1,200 plots of different grasses and crops each year to test which ones thrived best in the northeast Wyoming climate. He also grazed cattle on the various grasses to see which types produced the best results. During his tenure at the Experimental Farm Leland planted hundreds of trees that we all enjoy today at the Cam-Plex Park. His fondness for planting trees continued throughout his life. In June 1949, Leland became a member of the Lion’s Club and, at the time of his death, he was the oldest person in the club’s Gillette Chapter. In addition to being the oldest member, he also had the distinction of being the longest serving Lion, with 64 years of service. Leland also worked in the field of meteorological observations from 1954 to 1995 where he kept track of temperatures and precipitation for the National Weather Service. In 1991, he received the John Campanius Holm award for outstanding accomplishments in the field of meteorological observations. Leland enjoyed being a private pilot and bought his first plane on Aug. 20 1954: a Taylorcraft from John Kluver. He completed his Advanced Pilot Education Course on June 28, 1964. He enjoyed flying his planes such as the Taylorcraft, Aeronica, Cessna 140, and a couple Piper PA-22s. He truly enjoyed nature and would plant trees every year with enthusiasm. A lifelong learner, Leland was intrigued by wildlife, geology and the formation of the land. His curiosity and adventurous spirit frequently led Leland to travel near and far, as he enjoyed driving around Wyoming as much as traveling abroad. After his service in Europe during WWII ended, he embarked on a solo walking tour of Europe during which he searched out his family roots. Leland was definitely a renaissance man who had a broad range of intellectual interests from the outdoors to the fine arts. Music of all kinds was important to him and he loved going to plays and musicals, listening to the Gillette Chamber Singers, and even took guitar lessons at the age of 88. Leland was a very caring man and loved being with family and friends. He was energized by being around children and watching all their various activities from just running and playing around, to going to the rodeos and dance competitions they were involved with. In his last few years he especially enjoyed watching Carson ride his ponies while competing in ranch sorting.
Leland is survived by his brother, David Landers of Loveland, Colorado; numerous nephews and nieces; his adopted family, the Martinsons of Gillette; along with many close friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Gladys; and sister, Mildred Durfee.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be sent in his name. Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. 5th Street, Gillette, Wyoming 82716 or condolences via the internet at www.gillettememorialchapel.com