Leland Roy Douglas, age 87, son of Oscar Lee and Lottie (Hoeck) Douglas, was born January 31, 1922, in the White Rock community west of Houston, Missouri. He died February 4, 2009 at Cox South Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri.
Leland was the middle child of seven children, as the second oldest son, responsibilities began at an early age. As a boy, too young to attend school, he was often sent on horseback to Lundy Mill to have the family’s corn ground into meal. On the return trip, he would be lifted onto the back of the horse, backwards, and it took nearly half the trip back home to get himself turned around again. Another responsibility for young Leland was to harness the team of horses needed to work in the fields each day. As he was too short to climb on the back of the horse while out in the pasture, he would shinny up the horse’s leg to reach the back of the horse, then would ride the horse back to the barn to harness the team.
He attended school during his early grades at White Rock and completed high school at Houston Schools. He interrupted his high school education for one year in order to work during the construction of Fort Leonard Wood. He then returned home to graduate from Houston High School. He also worked as a driver for John Scheets at High Town.
Leland enlisted into the United States Army on December 4, 1942 and was honorably discharged on October 18, 1945, a period of 33 months without so much as a three-day pass. He served in the 7th Army Infantry Division and participated in various amphibious landings in the Pacific Campaign of World War II. His military career began during battles on Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands, which is part of Alaska. He later saw hand-to-hand combat in the Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands; Saipan, Marion Islands; Luzon and Leyte Island, Philippines; and Okinawa, Japan. He was wounded three times earning the Purple Heart and two oak leaf clusters. He also was awarded five Bronze Stars for meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy.
Leland did not share many military experiences with his family until much later in life. Most of his experiences were just too horrific to talk about with his loved ones. Several times following a battle, although he was a sergeant, he found himself to be the only leader remaining to command a platoon, a group of up to 44 men. Leland served with honor and credited God for bringing him back home safely to his family.
On November 21, 1945, Leland was united in marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Doris Faye Branson, and to this union were born three children.
Leland and Doris started milking cows right away and continued to expand their small farm into a successful dairy and beef farm. The Douglases sold grade “A” milk and raised their own replacement stock, as well as growing all their own hay. Doris preceded Leland in death in 1985.
On February 2, 1986, Leland was married to Ruby Wilcoxin. Ruby preceded him in death on September 27, 2008.
In addition, Leland was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Margaret Walls; and one son, Leland Roy Douglas, Jr.
Leland accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized at an early age. Until 1987, Leland was actively involved with Oak Hill Christian Church in the White Rock community where he raised his family. In later years, after moving to Houston, Leland attended First Church of God and continued to faithfully attend until just before his death.
During his retirement years, Leland served as board member for Houston Senior Citizen’s Center. He loved to visit with family and friends and would always have a funny story to share with a visitor. Leland’s repertoire of stories was varied, including tales of school day escapades and events that occurred while growing up with his large immediate and extended families and working around the area. He also cultivated a garden and shared produce to his friends and neighbors.
Survivors include two daughters, Evelyn and husband Galen Hickerson of Phillipsburg, Missouri, and Cathy Sirdoreus of Bucyrus, Missouri; four grandchildren, Allen Hickerson of Pawnee, Illinois, Carolyn (Hickerson) Davis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Ryan Sirdoreus of Laramie, Wyoming, and Adam Sirdoreus of Nevada, Missouri; four great-grandchildren, Jonah and Jaxon Davis and Emilee and AJ Sirdoreus; three brothers, Cecil Douglas of South Jordan, Utah, Walter and wife Laveda Douglas of Houston, and Herbert and wife Beulah Douglas of Houston; two sisters, Lois Steele of Phoenix, Arizona, and Gladys Criss of Bothel, Washington; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends made throughout the years.
Leland lived his life by trusting in God and accepting each day as God’s gift. Life was not often easy, but he accepted each challenge given to him with dignity, grace and humility. He will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.
Memorials may be made to Texas County Gideons. Online condolences may be made at www.evansfh.com.
Services were held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, February 6, 2009, at Evans Funeral Home with Eugene Earp and Rev. James Powell officiating. Burial was in White Rock Cemetery under the direction of Evans Funeral Home.