Mr. Leon W. Heidebrecht, 75, of Port Charlotte, Florida, passed away Friday, August 28, 2009 at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte.
Leon was born on June 5, 1934 in Newton, Kansas to the late Alvin and Sarah (nee-Vogt) Heidebrecht. Leon’s father who was a barber, moved his family to Hutchinson, Kansas, and opened a barber shop. Leon’s school years from elementary through Junior College were spent in Hutchinson. During High School and Junior College, Leon participated in Drag racing as a hobby. He won a State Championship in drag racing in 1959. He was also President of a local Hutchinson Drag Racing Club for several years. After Junior College, Leon entered Kansas State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in 1957. While in Engineering School Leon was named to Steel Ring, an Engineering Honorary Society during his senior year.
After graduation, he then worked for the Kansas State Highway Department, and in 1960, he was named Resident Engineer for all State Highway construction work in various Counties surrounding Hutchinson. He was one of the youngest Resident Engineers ever named in Kansas. One year before being named Resident Engineer, Leon married Kathleen Hasler from Inman, Kansas. They eventually had three sons, Ray, Neal, and Glenn. In 1963, Leon returned to Kansas State University to obtain a Masters Degree in Transportation Engineering, which he received in 1964. Leon then was named a Senior Department of Defense (DOD) Transportation Engineer for Management, Policy, and Implementation the next 28 years, being responsible for identifying and integrating defense transportation needs into the National System of Interstate & Defense Highways, managing the DOD U.S. wide Defense Access Road Program, and being responsible for Traffic Engineering at all Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Military Bases throughout the United States. In the early 1970’s, Leon was the Transportation Engineering Consultant for the road construction of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense System (ABMS) in several upper Midwestern Sates. The ABMS was later made inactive in accordance with an Arms Agreement with the Soviet Union. In 1976, Leon (although a republican) was named Transportation Engineering Point of Contact to the Jimmy Carter Inaugural Committee, especially overseeing the bus, automobile, and mass transit conveyance of hundreds of dignitaries and guests between Capital Hill (swearing in) and the White House (for the beginning of the Inaugural Balls). During the 28 years with the DOD, he earned numerous awards, monetary rewards, and commendations. Spiritually-wise, Leon was raised as a Mennonite, served as a Deacon in the Presbyterian and Chantilly Interdenominational Church’s in his former home of Centerville, Virginia, and most recently attended St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Port Charlotte where Leon has lived since 1991.
Leon’s wife Kathleen died in 1979, leaving Leon and their 3 sons. In 1980, Leon married Gail M. Trowbridge, and together they had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1982. Gail had 3 daughters from a previous marriage, Lisa, Laurie, and Amy.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 29 years Gail Mary Heidebrecht; son, Glenn of Front Royal, VA; daughters Elizabeth Heidebrecht of Tallahassee, FL, Laura J. Reid of Herndon, VA, Lisa M. Smith of Aldie, VA, and Amy R. Coffey of Appomattox, VA; 9 grandchildren, 1 great grandchild, and a brother, Glen Heidebrecht. Leon was preceded in death by his sons Ray and Neal.