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Posted on December 27, 2014 | 10:10 a.m.

Le Roy Henry Jeffers of Santa Barbara, 1931-2014

Source: Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels | updated logo

On December 11, 2014, LeRoy Henry Jeffers died peacefully in his sleep. This occurred after a year-long battle with an inoperable brain tumor.

A lifelone athlete, LeRoy Jeffers was a star softball player, coach and horseshoes champion.
A lifelone athlete, LeRoy Jeffers was a star softball player, coach and horseshoes champion.

Leroy was born on May 19, 1931, in Ozark, Arkansas, to Ruth and Hoyt Jeffers. He was the third of four brothers in his family. He moved with his family to Santa Barbara in 1947 and entered Santa Barbara High School as a sophomore. While attending high school, he ran track and cross country and graduated with the Class of 1949.

After graduation, he joined the Marines. For two years, he was assigned to the USS Essex as a seagoing Marine during the Korean War. He was extremely proud to serve his country and continued to be a proud Marine for the rest of his life. LeRoy was the embodiment of the motto, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”!

In late summer 1953, the USS Essex was in Bremerton, Washington, for repairs. LeRoy was picked up by the Navy softball team as a pitcher. With LeRoy pitching, they won the 13th Naval District tournament. While there, he met the future love of his life who was also serving in the Navy. Her name was Vada “Rusty”​ Sibert. She saw him playing softball and was intrigued. He noticed her in the stands and was interested. Three months later they were married, and, on November 22, 2014, they celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary.

In 1954, LeRoy and Rusty returned to Santa Barbara to begin their lives here. LeRoy first worked for Safeway. Shortly after that, Jimmy Pete Jordano offered him a job because he recognized LeRoy’s potential as an employee and because he knew that LeRoy would definitely help Jordano’s to have a winning softball team.

In 1968, LeRoy left Jordano’s to fulfill a lifetime dream of owning his own store, and opened the Hi-Lo Market in Carpinteria with his partner, Charlie Cantello. He sold the Hi-Lo Market in 1973, and went to work for General Foods as a salesman. LeRoy worked for General Foods for 18 years until his retirement.

After his retirement, he became very involved in the many programs that he was already volunteering with. LeRoy had been a member of the Elks since the late 1960s.

He also worked with a group of families in the early 1970s in the Goleta area to start a softball program for girls ages 8-14. He started a pitching clinic on Saturday mornings at San Marcos High School, as well as on the field at team practices. Over the years, some excellent pitchers were developed due to these early efforts.

LeRoy spent 25 years in various capacities with the Goleta Valley Girls Softball Association, serving as president and league coordinator. He also spent several years umpiring in tournaments and league games.

LeRoy’s involvement with the Elks was something he took great pride and enjoyment in. So much so, that his wife fondly called it his “second home.” In 1998, he became involved with the Elks Hoop Shoot program. They had much success in the district and state competitions.

Along with the sports programs for kids that LeRoy worked on and loved doing, he also served the Elks in many other ways. He was in charge of the weekly bingo games in which all proceeds go to charities that the Elks support. LeRoy worked on the Elks firewood sales program, the traveling barbecue, served the salad bar at weekly meetings, and picked up trash with the Elks on Highway 154. He also served a period time as chaplain. LeRoy won numerous Elks awards including Top Elk of the Year for 2010-2011.  He was also involved with his church, and volunteered to mow the lawn there for many years.

Sports had always been a big part of LeRoy’s life. In 2005, at the age of 74, he started playing horseshoes for the first time. In his usual way, he went after the sport with total commitment and his natural aptitude toward athletics. So much so, that one year later, on October 8, 2006, with son Steve watching, he won first place in the Elders Class for California State.

LeRoy Jeffers was a very special man who was devoted to his wife and his family. He was involved in his community, someone you could always count on. We always knew that he would be there for us. LeRoy, you are much loved and will be greatly missed.

Leroy was predeceased by his brothers, Finis, Hoyt and Richard Jeffers. He was also predeceased by his grandsons, Ryan Lee Jeffers and Christopher William Ellis Zahuta.

He is survived by his adoring and loving wife of 61 years, Vada “Rusty”​ Jeffers. He is also survived by his children, Steve (Christie) Jeffers, Lynda Jeffers and Karen Jeffers; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 17, 2015, at Santa Barbara Community Church, 1002 Cieneguitas Road in Santa Barbara. A reception will follow immediately after the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations please be made to the Wounded Warriors Project. Click here to make an online donation, or call 877.768.6807.

Arrangements entrusted to Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels.

 

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