Grandpa Leroy Gunstone — 1928 to 2010 — Olympia, WA

My grandfather went to be with Jesus last weekend.  In getting ready to share at his memorial next week, I was going thru some old photos to remember the life he lived.  It is always bitter sweet reflecting on a lost loved one.  But I wanted to share a few fond memories…

Grandpa always had a goofy grin on his face.

Grandpa always wore a speedo around the water.

Grandpa never left the driveway without the camper.

Grandpa had the most distinct voice.

Grandpa gave rad presents.

Grandpa ALWAYS looked on the back of greeting cards given to him to make SURE they were Hallmark.

Grandpa is the reason I will always yell GO COUGS.

Grandpa was the world’s FASTEST eater (grew up on farm, and to save time he left tractor running and scarfed at lunch).

I loved boating and camping with Grandpa.

I got my Grandpa’s beard and chin genes.

I have a scar on my foot from swimming with Grandpa in the San Juans.

I get 50% of my adventuresome spirit from my Grandpa (other 50% from my pops and 100% from my God).

I almost sank the boat, truck and camper when doing “brake patrol” on the boat ramp.

I pushed his car 3 miles with my car when his cooling system went out in Tacoma.

I wish I had more time out in the wilderness with Grandpa.

I learned a lot of good traits and skills of Grandpa from my Uncle Don, his son.

I HATED seeing Grandpa suffer in his last hours.

I LOVE knowing the Grandpa is no longer trapped inside his earthly flesh.



G. Leroy Gunstone, age 81, passed away on Sunday, January 31, at Auburn Regional Medical Center. LeRoy was born on August 12, 1928 in Olympia, Washington to Lloyd and Hazel Gunstone.

LeRoy and his sister Joan were raised on a farm south of Olympia in a community called Littlerock/Maytown. This farm and others nearby were the result of two brothers homesteading the area in the mid-1800s. Throughout his early childhood and until he went to college, LeRoy’s time was spent helping his father and mother build a thriving dairy farm and later a meat-packing business.

LeRoy graduated from Olympia High School in 1946 and left for The State College of Washington in Pullman Washington, now known as Washington State University. He graduated in 1951 with a BS in Agriculture. He was hired and worked for Boeing Aircraft Company of Seattle Washington for his entire working life of 35 years until his retirement in 1986. During his career he worked on many strategic military programs for Boeing, such as Peacekeeper, B-52, KC-135, Minuteman, E3A and ALCM. These projects took him to several countries around the world.

LeRoy’s life was shaped by a fateful encounter with fellow State College classmate Robert Herzog who later became his close lifelong friend. Through their mutual passionate love for the outdoors they took their families on numerous adventures in backpacking, skiing, hunting and boating for over 40 years. In the early 1970s he, along with his rafting friends, formed the Boeing Whitewater and Touring Club, BE’WET’. Through the whitewater club he met and married Ardieta Harrison and together they spent numerous years rafting whitewater rivers throughout the greater Northwest. LeRoy and Ardieta also made many snowbird trips with his custom-built camper and 34’ trailer, traveling as far south as Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

LeRoy was a very adventuresome man who developed many skills throughout his lifetime. He possessed the ability to problem solve and fix many different mechanical challenges. He demonstrated his kindness and generosity to others by helping them with whatever “fix-it” need they had. This usually led to invitations to the outdoor activities that he dearly loved. Most who came in contact with him reaped the benefits of his skills and outdoorsman enthusiasm. He leaves behind his faithful companion Ardieta; his sister Joan; three children, Denise, Debbie & Donald; three step-children, Tom, Janet, and Pam; 16 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his step-son Mark.


Some old slides were fished out of the dusty box and I really enjoyed looking back on the life of my grandfather…

Tho this photo has poor quality, I LOVE this photo…

The best birthday present a sixteen year old man could get is the rifle his grandfather shot a bear with…  yup… I GOT IT!!

Bill, the rad lookin dude on the left, continued backpacking into his late 90’s before retiring from his life… what a beast.

Something about this photo makes me proud to have been his grandson.

Sorry for the gore, but this image just shows that he did it all…  To bring a Moose down says a lot about a man…

I NEVER ONCE saw my grandpa’s truck without the camper on it.  He commuted to work with it, went to 7/11 with it, safeway…

He was always packed and ready for the next adventure.

Totally classic grandpa Leroy

Gramps never had to lie about fish stories, cause he actually did catch that many fish…

Definitely Grandpa’s favorite past-time…  His garage was packed with rafting gear.  He scaled the rapids of nearly every wicked river of North America.  I never got the chance to cruise along as his health failed before I was old enough, but I dream of the adventures he went on with a raft beneath his butt.

I love that smile.



  1. Debbie Blumenthal wrote:

    Thank you Jeffrey! It brought tears to my ears. I am thankful you had some fun times and memories of him, and that you shared them. We all carry many gifts, and his spirit of adventure lives on in you and my brother. ( i have to work at it), but my boating spirit is from him and love of the mountains. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Janet Hawken wrote:

    Great job, Jeffrey – your memory is exactly the way I saw him. You definitely look like your Grandpa and I hope that you continue to feel that love of life that he passed on through his genes!

  3. Don Huling wrote:

    Loved your pictures and story.

  4. Denise Hicks wrote:

    You did a great job with your words and pictures. I appreciate you representing the grandkids and being able to hear of your times with him. I love you much and pray for you to have a marriage filled with joy, sharing, unselfishness, and peace!

  5. Diane Schenaker Gaston wrote:

    Dear Jeff, My grandfather Bill Schenaker is the rad dude you have in one photo with your grandfather Leroy. My brother let me know of your grandfather’s passing. I am sorry for your loss. Both of my grandparents Bill and Rosa used to camp with Leroy. I will look through some photos in case I have any more (Bill died in 1984 and Rosa in 2007) for you. I got to go on one or two hikes/campouts with him asa kid. We lied out of the area for most of those years.
    Diane Gaston