Vail Daily obituary: Gary Leeds

My husband, Gary, and I were only married three months when I begged this native Californian to move to Vail with me. Being the unselfish man he was, he hesitantly drove a new Ford Explorer with a packed U-Haul from sunny San Diego to snowy Vail in December of 1992. Since I was born and bred in Minnesota, Vail seemed like a perfect place for both of us to settle. We rented a Par 6 condo sight unseen and began our married lives together in a blizzard! The great skiing was immediately apparent. Gary loved all the outdoor sports that Vail life afforded, skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer.

As the years went by, we had two wonderful children, Broby and Gaby. Many new friendships were cemented throughout the valley and as we continued to develop roots, Vail became Gary’s new home. Our children were the most important thing in our lives. Broby and Gaby attended Vail Mountain School where we had a true family of friends. The headmaster had told us, “It takes a village to raise children” and at VMS, we found our village. The children were active in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and the Vail Valley Dance Academy. Broby was an avid soccer player and Gary, being the awesome dad that he was, never missed a game, a ski event, a chance to watch Gaby dance or to support me in all of my endeavors. It was often said that “When you get Liz, you get something better too, you get Gary!” He was my rock who helped me with computer issues, creative thinking and planning. He would do anything to support my career and dreams.

Growing up in Southern California, Gary spent his early life enjoying the beach and sunsets. He was always self-motivated and started in the restaurant business when he was young and ended up owning his own restaurant, The Palms Cafe in La Jolla, California. Gary was a family man in every sense of the word. He grew up in a loving family with his two sisters and their families. I learned the true meaning of family being surrounded by his. Gary was recently predeceased by his mother, Doris Leeds Vettese. His father Robert Leeds, who Gary resembled in so many ways earning him the nickname B.J. ( Bob Jr.), passed away in 2003. Gary is also survived by many cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces who all adored him.

Upon selling the Palms Cafe, Gary vacationed in Hawaii, where we met and fell in love in 1983. We have spent the last 32 years together loving the life in Vail, enjoying our children grow surrounded by close friends and family. Gary was diagnosed in 2008 with CLL and in February of 2014 was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma. We immediately began battling this devastating disease with the latest experimental treatments available. After a heroic fight, Gary passed away peacefully during the night of Feb. 13, 2015.

The family is planning a service in the weeks to come and in lieu of flowers, request that all donations be made to the Shaw Cancer Center who helped our family tremendously during this difficult time in our lives. We are so thankful for them and the great, attentive care they gave Gary this past year. Also many thanks are given to our friends in the valley who have supported us every step of this journey and continue to do so. Your outpouring of love and generosity will never be forgotten. Gary will be missed forever but his memory will live on in all of the lives he touched with his warmth, compassion, humor and kindness. With forever great love and admiration, Liz, Broby and Gaby Leeds.

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