Leo Pete Fercho was born August 18, 1938 to Edward and Maggie Fercho in Naploean, North Dakota.
Leo was the middle child of eight in the family. He spent his early days on the Fercho Farms and was educated in the Edgeley Public Schools. Leo had fond memories from his childhood, including riding horses for miles every day, farming with the mules, and driving a farm truck to town when he was 7 years old on Saturday Nights. If he was lucky, his dad would flip him a poker chip so he could buy candy for himself and his friends.
From 1955 to 1959, he was in the U.S. Navy aboard the Shangri-La aircraft carrier. He served as the commanding officer’s assistant. He was handpicked for this job because of his extreme attention to detail – a trait that he would later apply to every aspect of his life, including raising his beloved daughters.
Leo was a long-distance truck driver for International Transport, surpassing the million-mile mark, earning many safety awards, and covering all of the lower 48 contiguous states and Alaska. He had the distinction of hauling the first fast food neon sign to Anchorage, AK – a King Leo sign – in the days before there were paved roads. Leo was chosen for this assignment because of his driving skills, and because he was the only driver who could fix his own truck if it broke down. As a driver, Leo often got assignments to drive hot shot loads, such as hauling dangerous materials like government bombs.
After Leo finished driving, he was the owner/operator of Leo Fercho Construction. This was a heavy equipment company.
On November 30, 1968, Leo married Lucille Smalley in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Eleven years later, Leo had is daughter, Kira (Kent) and Dr. Kelene Fercho. Leo was ultra proud of his children, and considered raising his daughters to be the highlight of his life. During the last two years of his life, Leo would tell his doctors, “You better buy one of Kira’s paintings, while you can still afford it!” He trusted his daughter Kelene to research all of his medical procedures and physical ailments, and would brag to his physicians that his daughter Kelene was a pilot. His daughters still believe that their dad was the toughest man to ever live (even tougher than John Wayne).
Leo loved babies, and babies loved him. One recipient of his attention as grandpa was Gia Lynch. Beginning at the age of 17 months, Gia would follow “grandpa” to horse and cattle sales, farm supply stores, and to the bank for suckers. It was a given that you could acquire a taste for classic country music. This adoration continued to the present. The cherry on the sundae of the last two years of his life was the birth of Kiva Mattson. He stated that he wished he knew that he had ten more years to was Kiva and her antics. Her mother, Kira, believes that she looks like Kent’s father Dave. However, Kiva acts like Leo with her bigger than life personality.
Leo was preceded in death by his grandparents, parents, brother Wilfred, and sister Mary Veil. He is survived by his daughters Kira (Kent) and Kelene Fercho, granddaughters Gia Lynch and Kiva Mattson, special nephews Joseph and Matthew Fercho and numerous nephews and nieces, brothers Tiny, Roger, Duane, and Donald, and sister Angeline Braun (Mark).