Leland was born in Dexter, Iowa in 1931, the fourth child of Charley and Emma Smith. He was one of nine children.
Leland attended school in Iowa. He joined the U.S. Army and served during the Korean war. After the war, he moved to Rockford, Illinois where he worked as an apprentice tool and die maker.
In Rockford, he met and married his wife of 64 years, Margaret Ann Sweeney. Lee and Margaret Ann lived in Rockford in the home Lee built until they moved to California in 1965, where he worked for Ajax Hardware. In 1968, Lee opened Upland Mold & Engineering. Shortly thereafter, he opened STL Molding.
In 1970, Leland took his love of flying skyward and became a pilot. For over a decade he flew around the Southwestern United States.
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In 1974, Lee and Margaret Ann build their dream house in Cebada Canyon, Lompoc, CA. Lee opened Santa Maria Mold, which served a diverse group of customers in California and surrounding states. Lee retired in 2016 and sold Santa Maria Mold.
Lee and Margaret had three children, Michael, Mitchell (deceased), and Jeannette.
Lee was robust, enjoying gardening, playing golf and flying. He maintained a variety of fruit trees on his property and kept horses for many years. Lee had a great love for nature and animals and especially loved his Jack Russel Terrier, Speedy.
Lee's health started to fail in mid-year 2019 and he passed away in his home. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Ann, his son Michael, his daughter Jeannette Forrest and two grandchildren, Dr. Samantha Ford (married to Trevor) and A.J. Behncke. (married to Nicole). He is predeceased in death by his son Mitchell, his mother and father, his brothers Robert, Richard and Kenneth and his sister, Lucille. His sisters Beverly and Carol and brothers Charles and James survive him.
Lee will be remembered as a kind and gentle man who never met a stranger. He loved life and lived it to the fullest. The family wants to recognize VNA hospice for their short but wonderful and compassionate care at the end of his life.
A visitation for Lee will be held on Sunday, January 12, 2020 from 6:30-8 pm, followed by a rosary at 8 pm Starbuck-Lind Mortuary Chapel. His funeral mass will be Monday, January 13, 2020, 10 am at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, followed by burial at the Lompoc Cemetery District. A reception will follow at Lee's residence.