Leonard Ray Alexander (Grandpa Joe), 90, of Quincy, died peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 14, 2004 at Plumas District Hospital.
Joe was born Nov. 25, 1913 in Bowlegs, Okla. to John Minden and Laura (Beesinger) Alexander. He married his wife, Sallie Olson of Litchfield, Minn. in 1938. He was the last surviving child with 10 siblings, five brothers and five sisters.
During his long career he worked a wide variety of jobs, beginning with farms in Oklahoma and moving on to the oil fields where he was a mule skinner and roustabout. During the Great Depression he traveled across the country and came to the Plumas County area in the 1930s. He worked in lumber and served as a union organizer in the industry in the late 1940s.
In World War II he joined and served in the U.S. Army, 152nd Infantry, as an unarmed medic on the front lines in the Philippine Islands and Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart and also a Silver Star. After the war, he returned to Plumas County.
He was an avid hunter and trained and traded innumerable hunting dogs and horses. He taught Sunday school at the Assembly of God Church, worked the Sierra Pacific Lumber Mill for 38 years, retiring in 1977. He formerly wrangled horses and riders over the years at 4-H, Oakland Camp and Greenhorn Guest Ranch, and continued always to be "a friend of man." This phrase is taken from "The House Beside the Road," by Sam Walter Foss; Joe's favorite poem in eighth-grade that continued to express his philosophy throughout his life.
Joe and Sallie (deceased since 1976) loved teaching people to ride horses. They informally taught many Quincy area kids and teenagers about horsemanship, drill teaming and parading, and formed the Claremont Rough Riders, the forerunner of the Plumas County Horsemen's Association. Joe is still fondly remembered by them as "Grandpa Joe." Joe was truly one of the old masters at understanding horses and people, matching many a horse and rider over a 60-year span. Joe was active with horses to the last, sharing training and lessons with an old friend, Judi (Sheehee) St. John of Susanville. He continued to oversee his and his grandson's horse-riding operation.
Joe is survived by his loving and caring family including his two daughters and sons-in-law, Don and Lou Oman of Keizer, Ore., and Harry and LaVonne (Nordt) Linskens, Anchorage, Alaska; his grandson, Terry Lee Howard of Quincy; granddaughter, Shamika Cleveland of Salem, Ore.; two great-granddaughters, Stephanie Joe Howard of Quincy and Malia Cleveland of Salem, Ore.; and many nieces and nephews and dear friends, in various states. A special remembrance goes to the grandson Joe helped raise, Terry Lee Howard, who has been Grandpa Joe's constant companion all these many years. Terry inspired and gave purpose for Grandpa Joe to maintain an active lifestyle.
Joe will be most missed for his storytelling, his good sense of humor, his love of dancing and the twinkle in his eye. Joe thoroughly enjoyed people and spent most of his life helping others. The memory of his compassion for us all, his patience, his work ethic, his integrity and sense of humor will live within us forever.
A memorial celebration of Grandpa Joe's life will take place Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004 at 4 p.m. at the Oakland Camp Veranda. Following the service, there will be a potluck dinner. Please call Vicky at 283-0823 to list the potluck item you'll be bringing. The family requests any donations in Grandpa Joe's memory be made to: Joe and Sallie Alexander Memorial Equestrian Fund, c/o Plumas Bank, 336 W. Main, Quincy, CA 95971.
Source: The Feather River Bulletin newspaper, Quincy, California, 22 Sep 2004.