The life of Leon Shaw, who died
Sept. 14, was larger than most, and if there is a pantheon of
glorious Kitsap residents, he deserves honorable mention. Maybe he
isn’t in the category of Chief Seattle or Delilah, but maybe the
pantheon needs to make some room. From mentoring a bull, to telling
the future, to mastering ping pong, to wowing women so often his
own sister lost track the number of marriages he had, Lee lived a
full life to the fullest. And let us not overlook that sweet
mustache. If he was your friend, he would give you the shirt off
his back, and not just because he looked good without a shirt.
On Sunday there will be a memorial for this son of South Kitsap.
Lee’s family and friends will gather at 3 p.m. at the Port Orchard
Pavilion, 701 Bay Street. The service is open to the public.
Lee was born at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton and was
raised in Port Orchard. If he would have graduated from South
Kitsap High School, he would have been class of 1979. He loved the
song “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and used to practice John
Travolta’s disco moves. He has a son, who is said to be a spitting
image of his father, which is a blessing to the world.
His ability to tell the future came in sudden waves, said his
On one occasion he was riding in a car with their mother and had
a vision of him getting dropped off and his mother continuing on
and dying in a wreck. His face blanched and then he refused to get
out of the car. He might have saved her life.
“Too bad he didn’t visualize his
own death before, so he could have prevented it,”
Lee’s death, or what is known of
it, bizarre and untimely as it is, boggles the mind, and seems so
unfair in light of his amazing life. Here is what we know: He met a
woman online. They went on a date and had a few drinks, nothing
wrong with that. They went to the house of a friend of Lee’s, a
tattoo artist. The friend began tattooing the date’s chest.
Well, then Lee’s date becomes “intimate” with his friend. Safe
to assume this prompted a “What the hell?” moment from Lee. Reports
say a conflict ensued, and that the date hit Lee, and Lee hit her
back. They leave. Next thing anyone knows, Lee is dead, likely from
being run over. The woman is behind the wheel of Lee’s truck, and
has driven over an embankment and is seriously injured. OK
This all happened in Gig Harbor, where Lee had been staying with
a friend, so it is the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office
investigating. A spokesman for the department said Friday
investigators are waiting on the results of blood tests.
For a press account,
here is the Tacoma News Tribune’s version of events.
Lee’s obituary reads like a piece of folklore, the kind of
obituary that should get its own genre. It is definitely the
greatest obit I have ever read, and I’ve read a few. The photo,
too, is epic. It shows a mountain of a man on the high seas,
astraddle a gunwale, what might be a can o’beer in his hand, naked
save for well-fitting dungarees presumably because he just gave a
friend the shirt off his back. His bronze pecs glisten in the sun,
the wind lifts back his wavy mane. He gives an easy smile, along
with the peace sign. Damn. All the women wanted to date him, the
men would have wanted to date him too if they had any sense.
is the obit, in its entirety. It is too well-written, too poetic,
to try to summarize like a press release, or to just provide a
link. Savor it.
Leon Robert Shaw
June 10, 1961 to Sept. 14, 2014
He was a guy that loved to make you laugh. He had a presence
about him when he walked into a room. He stood nearly 6’4” and was
handsomely well-built. You’d want this guy for a friend. He had a
sweetness that grabbed at your heart strings. He was a very hard
worker, he could master just about anything he tried in short
order. His word was his bond. You knew you could count on him.
Though he never won any trophies for pool or Ping-Pong, he was
one of the best. He liked being athletic to keep his muscles tone.
At 10 years old, he had a lawn mowing route in the area of the
Forest Park grocers. In South Kitsap High, he was the only boy in
the soprano singing section. Then his voice went to bass and he
grew four inches in three months.
He ran away from home at 15 and got a job at the golf course on
Long Lake Road. He came back to finish his youth. He found work in
He loved his dad teaching him to ride a motorbike, which he
taught his sister Barb when she was 15. He loved to go fast and
take risks. He had visions, and could predict the future at times,
he believed this was due to him being 1/4 Nez Percé Indian. He
loved nature and going camping. He was a dead shot with a rifle.
All the farm animals loved him. He raised a bull that he could do
anything with, while the neighbors sat on an old panel van in the
field, as the bull thrashed his horns on the van. That same bull
caught our chicken thieves. He had chickens jump on his arm at the
snap of his fingers. And when he ran away, our Doberman was so sad
he just slept on his dirty clothes.
At age 11, he built a two-story tree house 50 feet up an old
maple. He and his brother hoisted up a queen size mattress. Our
dad, Leon Sr., gave us a ferry rope to tie up and swing from.
Survivors include BFF, Keith Hoppe (53); his only child, son
Jared Burbee (32); mom, Mildred White (76); half sister, Connie
DeBoard (60); half sister, Faythe Neese (56); brother, David Shaw
(52); sister, Barb Cress (51); stepbrother, Mark McCormick;
stepbrother, Robbie Griffin; stepsister, Tracy Griffin.
May he rest in peace and fly with the eagles.
Obit published in the Kitsap Sun on Sept. 19, 2014
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