Obituary of Gary W Leis
Gary W Leis was born on November 5, 1940 in Germantown, Ohio, and Gary died peacefully at Forsythe Hospice House in Auburndale, Florida on January 1, 2024, at the age of 83, surrounded by family. Gary may be gone, but he will never be forgotten by those that knew him.
Gary was the only son of four children born to George and Thelma Leis: Georgene, Gary’s older sister, and Faye and Kaye, his younger twin sisters. The family moved to Florida when Gary was five years old, and he later graduated from Winter Haven High School. Following in his father’s footsteps before him, Gary enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served over two years before he received an Honorable Discharge in 1962.
Gary passed away on January 1, 2024, one day after his wedding anniversary. 53 years earlier, on New Year’s Eve, 1970, he married Sue Ann Floyd, a second marriage for each of them. That ceremony was the start of a long and beautiful marriage that lasted until his dying day, with Sue Ann at his side, holding his hand. Gary and Sue Ann purchased their home in Lake Alfred in 1971. Together they raised four children in that old Lake Alfred house, and they lived in that house for 46 years until they moved to Haines City in 2017. Gary and Sue Ann had a love and a connection and a marriage that most people could only dream about.
Gary joined the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 1970, as a Sheriff’s Deputy. He had an exemplary 26-year career with the Sheriff’s Office, where he worked his way up to the rank of Sergeant. He excelled as a Detective in Drug Enforcement and then Homicide, and Gary was responsible for investigating and solving dozens of murders and other serious crimes over the years. He was also a member of the Sheriff’s Office dive team. He retired in 1996, and his retirement photograph is still displayed today at the Polk Sheriff’s Office in Winter Haven.
After retiring from the Sheriff’s Office, Gary worked as a private investigator, and completed the rigorous training required to become a firefighter, then worked with Fire Rescue at Grenelefe Golf and Tennis Resort. He also worked for Publix Super Markets for several years. After Publix, he had more time to spend with family and to pursue numerous hobbies he was passionate about, primarily hunting and fishing, as well as coin collecting and metal detecting. Just like his dad George, Gary was a Mason for many years. Gary also enjoyed hunting Morel mushrooms in Michigan, something his parents loved to do.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, George and Thelma; brothers in law. Mike Nolen Sr., Jim Blake. He is survived by his three sisters, Georgene Nolen, Kaye Sabiston (Bob, Sr.), and Faye Blake; his five children, Rebecca Stewart (Chris), Lucrecia Barnett (Oliver), Patrick Van Leis, Kerri Culvahouse, and Jennifer Brown (Joshua); 15 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.
A visitation to celebrate Gary’s wonderful life will be held at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at Oak Ridge Funeral Care on Havendale Boulevard in Winter Haven, followed by a funeral service at 3:00 pm.
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