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Leon Keever "Cotton" Estes
© Cheyenne Star
10 Jul 2003
Submitted by: Wanda Purcell

Leon Keever "Cotton" Estes was born December 29, 1920, in Lindsay, Oklahoma.

He was the youngest of six children born to Bertha and George Estes.

He graduated from Durham High School where he was known as "Cotton" to his friends.

He loved to play basketball.

Leon wore many hats during his lifetime and wore them well. He was an electrician, butcher, plumber, teacher, mail carrier, square dance caller, social worker, employment counselor, park superintendent and land sales realtor. But most of all he was a "family man." He was a gentle and caring man with a playful sense of humor who displayed an unwavering sense of honesty and fairness with everyone he met. Leon was loved and respected by all who knew him!

When World War II broke out, Leon rushed to join the Navy with two buddies but the Navy sent him back home because he was under age.

He returned to college as an electrical engineering student, biding his time until he could enlist. On the day after his 21st birthday he joined the Navy, spending four years as an electrician on a submarine tender, the USS Fulton. He was always very proud of his military service and his country.

While in the Navy, Leon came home on leave to marry his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Peterson, daughter of Mary and Judge Walter Peterson of Cheyenne, Oklahoma; and sister of Geneva Miller, Strong City, Oklahoma; Giles Peterson {formerly of Cheyenne,} and Helen Williams (formerly of Redllands, California} on May 2, 1944.

After receiving his honorable discharge from the Navy, Leon returned to Oklahoma where he earned his Bachelor's of Arts in Agriculture from Oklahoma A&M College in 1951.

Leon, Margaret and their first daughter, Vicky, moved to Nebraska where he taught agriculture for the Veterans Administration and helped veterans secure farming loans for the next five years.

Their second daughter, Mary Lynn, was born while in Nebraska. In 1956 the family moved to California, near Margaret's mother and her sister, Helen, where more employment opportunities were available. The marriage of 20 years ended with Margaret's passing in 1964.

Leon met his second wife, Alice Robinson, at a Single Swingers Square Dance where he was "caller" and sometimes filled in as a dancer. Leon was considered quite a "catch" and more than one woman had her eye on him.

Leon and Alice dated for about a year before they were married in 1967. They spent their marriage of 36 years, living most of the time in the high desert of Victorville, California. They had one son, David.

After retirement in 1983, Leon developed his talent for carpentry by frequently adding rooms and extra garages to their rambling desert home. He loved to be busy.

Leon could not resist a family, community, or school reunion. He made the trek from California to Oklahoma at least two to three times a year to visit with old friends and just talk about old times. He recently bought and was "fixing up" a small home in Cheyenne to have a place to stay during his frequent pilgrimages.

It was on his last trip that he became seriously ill and was admitted to the Cheyenne Hospital, transferred to Elk City, Oklahoma City, and then Fontana, California. After five and one-half weeks, Leon passed away on June 22, 2003.

Leon leaves behind his three children, Vicky Lorelli of Santa Barbara, California; Mary Lynn Kunselman of Oliverburg, Pennsylvania; and David Estes of Redlands, California who will miss his loving spirit. He also leaves his seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

He is survived by a host of friends, many nieces and nephews, and his sister-in-law that he loved dearly.

The family is very appreciative for the many friends and family members that visited and were so supportive during Leon's last days. We would like to thank each and every one of you.

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