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Leon Joseph Vandygriff (91) passed away peacefully at SilverCross/Friendship Manor, Rock Island, IL on Thursday, February 2, 2023. As per his wishes, cremation rites have been accorded; full military honors and interment will be held at the Rock Island National Cemetery. A celebration of his life will take place at a later date.
Leon was born the eldest of three sons to Harvel and Hattie (Luczyk) Vandygriff on April 24, 1931 in South Bend, Indiana. He earned the rank of National Eagle Scout Merit (BSA). Leon was a 1949 graduate of South Bend Clay High School where he was involved in athletics and drama.
As a young man, prior to enlisting in the US Marine Corps, he worked several jobs: horse caretaker for a greenhouse, the Ball-Band Plant and Studebaker Corp. He proudly served as a corporal in the Korean Conflict from 1951-1953 and remained in the Marine Reserves until 1959.
Three days after returning to the states, he married the love of his life, Martha E. Singer on November 28, 1953 at Christ the King Catholic Church in South Bend. They were married for 68 years and four children were born of this union. They built their life together by starting a family in 1955 and building a home on Brick Road in South Bend in 1958.
Upon returning from Korea, Leon worked at the Studebaker Corporation and later as a nationally certified radio installer for Freeman-Spicer. He retired in 1994 from his position as an electronic technician for the research and development department at Honeywell (formerly Allied SIgnal/ Bendix) of South Bend.
Born and raised in South Bend, he lived there most of his life. He enjoyed his early retirement years on Lake Latonka in Plymouth, Indiana before moving to Rock Island, Illinois to be closer to three of his four grandchildren.
Leon was a man of tremendous loyalty and family commitment, he was a dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He coached his children during their youth in softball, baseball and volleyball. He and Martha were strong supporters of all school activities at Christ the King Parish. His greatest joy was being with his family, supporting his children and his grandchildren in all of their activities and competitions.
He enjoyed cars, boating, hunting, fishing, country music and traveling. There was nothing that Leon couldn’t fix or repurpose and he showed his love for the environment by planting hundreds of trees. He was a productive and energetic gardener, a Notre Dame fan and never met a pizza he didn’t like.
Leon held membership at the American Legions and the VFWs in South Bend, Plymouth and Rock Island, as well as the Rock Island Moose and the Marine Corps Association.
He is survived by his four children and their spouses: Greg (Andrew Conway) of Australia, Jeff (Kym) of Rock Island, Susan (Lisa Moye) of Orlando, FL and Sandy (Greg) Gaither of Spokane, WA. His four grandchildren: Patrick Vandygriff and JJ Vandygriff (Bailie) of Rock Island, Tara (Ryan) Hiscox of Milwaukee, WI and Briar (Greg Howard) of Palmer, Alaska, his two great granddaughters: Myla and Leah Vandygriff, Rock Island. His Brother Jim (Barb) Vandygriff of Indiana, several nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded by his wife, Martha, his parents Hattie and Harvel Vandygriff, his in-laws Leona and Wiliam Singer, and his brother and sister-in-law Kenny and Carol Vandygriff of Kentucky.
A special thank you to Unity Point Hospice, especially Andy and Shawna for their compassion and care. Online condolences may be left at Schroder Mortuary (https://www.schrodermortuary.com). In lieu of flowers memorials can be made to the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities.
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