Cover photo for Leon Gift's Obituary
Leon Gift Profile Photo
1950 Leon 2021

Leon Gift

May 25, 1950 — January 14, 2021

Leon Gift, age 70, of Thedford, went to rope in greener pastures on January 14, 2021 at Bryan Medical Center, Lincoln, Nebraska.

He was born May 25, 1950 to William Floyd and Betty (Anderson) Gift in Arnold, NE.  He was the eldest of four, two sisters, Doris & Sylvia, and brother Keith.  He graduated from Stapleton High School in 1968 and went to work the next day for Peter Kiewit Cattle Company.  He loved checking pastures on horseback, breaking colts and working cattle.

On August 10, 1974 he married and spent 46 years with the love of his life Rosalea (Boyer).  They made their home on their ranch south of Thedford.  They enjoyed traveling to team ropings in Tryon, Stapleton, Burwell, Broken Bow, Fusch’s Arena, and the North Platte Area.  Leon continued team roping and competing competitively despite his accident when he lost his thumb while roping with good friend and longtime partner, Mark Lovitt at Stapleton’s rodeo. 

In 1982, they adopted a baby boy naming him, Ryan Leon, and in 1984 adopted a baby girl, Ginger Lynn.  There wasn’t a single activity Leon didn’t attend from football & volleyball games, 4-H shows, track meets, Jr. Rodeos, High School Rodeos and even College Rodeos.  The love of his family was the focus of his life along with his passion for ranching in the Sandhills, being an incredible horseman and passing down his skills and knowledge to the younger generation as a 4-H leader, served as President of the Thomas County Fairboard, State Director for High School Rodeo, volunteered countless hours over the years working the infamous BBQ Pit and serving hundreds of community members during the fair as well as helping produce the Thedford Jr Rodeo.  He also served as a board member for the Sandhills Cowboy Hall of Fame, to which he will be inducted to later this year. Leon loved competing in Ranch Rodeos and putting on local team ropings in Thedford & Dunning.

Leon was an avid Husker fan, never missing a chance to watch them on TV, especially Husker Volleyball.  He knew every player from current to years past.  He loved watching the Slack during Nebraska Land Days and always went to the Logan County Fair Rodeo in Stapleton to catch up with friends.  He was a lifelong fan of the KC Royals and passed his love of the team onto his grandson.  In 2014, Leon & Rose went to watch their first ever NFR performance at the Thomas & Mac in Las Vegas, given to them as a surprise for their 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Leon and Rose’s bond continued to deepen through the years as they watched their children and grandchildren grow.  It was no secret how much Leon loved and treasured his Grandkids just as much as they loved their Papa.  He loved having them help on the ranch moving cows, fencing, branding & teaching each of them the ways of Ranch Life.  He taught them how to ride, including taking his youngest Grandson, who was also named after him, Remmie Leon, for his very first time at just three months old on Ginger’s horse, Moon, a colt given to her from a family friend as a graduation gift that Leon had started himself as a baby and broke to ride.  Moon has been on the ranch for over 19 years and is still one of the Grandkids favorites.  Leon was extremely proud sharing with everyone whenever talking about or introducing Remmie that they shared a name.

As the Grandkids became older, he helped them show their horses and calves in 4-H.  He attended everything from Christmas programs, school plays, wrestling meets, ball games, tournaments, pre-school graduations, baptisms, softball games.  He was so proud of each of them and made absolutely sure they all knew it.  If there was an activity his grandchildren were involved with, you can bet Leon was there, even after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis & Diabetes and his health began to rapidly decline.  He refused to let that stand in his way of always being there for them. They are heartbroken he is no longer here with us, but we know he will be watching from above.

He was the best Dad, Grandpa, good friend & neighbor and all-around cowboy. He was a straight shooter, very forward & direct and always spoke his mind, never to leave you guessing exactly how he truly felt, like it or not you always knew where he stood.

Great friend and cherished neighbor Brent Steffens said it best, The Sandhills lost and Heaven gained a great cowboy.  Leon Gift was a true cowboy in every sense of the word. If there's a job do it! Put your back into it! A little dirt never hurt anybody, and it will wash off.  A conversation I’ll never forget having with another neighbor talking about neighboring and Leon's take on the subject was that "if you're keeping track you're not really neighboring ". I'll bet that when God balanced the neighboring scale, he saw that Leon did more for his neighbors than they did for him! I'll also bet that that's just the way Leon wanted it.

In the beautiful words by granddaughter Sierra- Fly high cowboy you will be greatly missed. Don't worry about us ok? All the Grandkids will help Grandma take care of the ranch just how you would have wanted. Thank you for everything you've done. All the life lessons you taught us, being our biggest supporter in anything we do, and always being there whenever we needed to chat. Until we see you again.  We love you Grandpa.

Leon is survived by his wife, Rosalea, son Ryan (Abby Barnes) of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, daughter Gin (Todd) Carr of North Platte, sisters Doris (Tom) Sweet of Glenrock, Wyoming, Sylvia (Don) Jividen of Geneva, brother Keith (Annette) of North Platte; six grandchildren Sierra, Gatlyn, Wesley, Remmie, Cameron & Maddy; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, family & many friends; and his beloved dog, Fancy.

Leon is preceded in death by his parents; grandparents; father-in-law and mother-in-law Kenneth & Maude Boyer.

A memorial has been established to raise funds and ease the burden to help Rose continue ranching and keeping Leon’s Legacy go on. Donations can be sent to Security 1st Bank, P.O. Box 288, Thedford, NE  69166 c/o Let Leon's Legacy Live.

Cremation was chosen.  A Celebration of Life will be held later on, Sunday, May 23, 2021 at the Thomas Co. Fairgrounds outdoor pavilion in Thedford at 3:00 P.M.  Services will be livestreamed for those that are unable to attend (link to be posted at a later date).



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