Dennis Johnston Alexander Leitch
June 16, 1925 – May 7, 2020
Dennis has taken his last flight, picked his last strawberry, built his last wooden pocket snapper, enjoyed his last jamboree and danced his last dance. Dennis Johnston Alexander Leitch quietly passed away on May 7, 2020, with his wife Lois close by.
He is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Lois (Batchelor), as well as his children, Melanie, Allen and Suzee, Heather and Greg. Five grandchildren will miss their Grandpa: Jonathan, Tyler, Jessica, Mallory and Lisa. Dennis was able to enjoy visits with his 13 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Randy and Freda, his brother Orley and his parents, Harold and Irene Leitch of Honeywood. Dennis was the great, great-grandson of Orange Lawrence, founder of Orangeville.
Dennis was born on June 16, 1925 on a farm on the Mulmur-Melancthon Townline. He attended school at Conover, Beech Valley and Honeywood. As a kid he enjoyed building model airplanes and as a teen he grew strawberries. He and his father went from farm to farm in a Model T Ford, peddling strawberries for 25 cents a box!
Dennis met Lois at a Junior Farmer event and they were married September 30, 1950. They bought their farm on the Mulmur-Melancthon Townline , just south of the home he was born and raised in. He and Lois raised their family and farmed the land for 55 years. They devoted time to ensuring that their 4 children participated in various activities such as hockey, figure skating, 4-H, church activities and extended family visits. Dennis was a general farmer, raising cattle, pigs, and chickens. He grew grains and corn and, in the early 1990s, he planted his first of many acres of strawberries. Many locals, and some not-so-locals, enjoyed the Leitch's Pick Your Own Strawberry Patch. All 5 grandchildren have fond memories of taking time away from school to assist with strawberry planting in the spring, and helping to pick berries to fill customer orders or supplying the Strawberry Supper in Honeywood, and others. Dennis was very interested to learn the story of customers who came to the farm and he got to know many of them well, as friends.
Dennis was involved in his community in a number of ways. He was a school trustee for the Conover school, and sat on the Honeywood Arena Board. He spent many hours helping to build the current arena, along with the other locals. He served on the Mulmur Township Council for 8 years, first as a councillor, then as Deputy Reeve. He also represented Mulmur on Dufferin County Council for a number of years.
For his personal recreation, Dennis thought the greatest invention was the airplane. After taking flying lessons in Collingwood, he purchased a plane. His Cessna 150 gave him years of pleasure, which he shared with friends and family at every opportunity. He and Lois enjoyed the fellowship of the Ontario Flying Farmers. All of his family have stories to tell about their airplane rides with Dad/Grandpa; it was his happy place!
Dennis has always thoroughly enjoyed music too. He has attended countless Jamborees over the years. His toes were always tapping and his spoons were in his back pocket ready to join in. He loved dancing, but his dancing partners had to protect their toes when he got on the dance floor!
Dennis and Lois were always on the road! They've travelled across Canada and the Southern United States. If there was a relative, a friend or a friend of a friend along the route, they were sure to visit during their travels. In 1999, Dennis travelled to Honduras with World Accord, a church group to help the locals build better drinking water solutions. In 2001, Dennis and Lois travelled to Cuba to watch their eldest grandchild get married on the beach.
Dennis and Lois moved into Shelburne shortly after he celebrated his 80th birthday with a big party in the farm barn. Dennis never thought he would enjoy town life but he quickly adjusted as he realized he was free to meet new friends while catching up with old ones. He looked forward to his daily trips to the coffee shop to catch up on local news. They lived in their custom-built home in Shelburne for 13 years before Lois, and then Dennis, moved into the Dufferin Oaks. They were able to share a room at the Oaks and Dennis continued to socialize with family, friends, residents and staff. Dennis and Lois were able to attend Sunday morning services with Abiding Place Ministries downstairs at the Oaks, meeting even more new friends.
Despite health concerns, Dennis remained fiercely independent until the end. The quarantine that started in March 2020 just gave him new ways to communicate with his family. He waved through his third floor window and the staff helped him to communicate via phone conversations and Zoom video conferences with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He passed away in May, following a general decline in health that was not related to any viral infection. He would have turned 95 in June.
The family would like to thank everyone for the support given to Dennis and Lois during the past several years. The 3rd Floor Staff at Dufferin Oaks have provided personalized care since they moved in, and they are appreciated even more during this stressful time. Christine, of Jack and Thompson Funeral Home, has been of great assistance, helping to make the arrangements that Dennis wanted. We have wrapped Dennis in his special "Come and Fly with Me" airplane quilt that was made for his 90th birthday. All of the guests signed this quilt and now he will have his friends and family with him as he takes his final journey. Dennis left us wearing his “strawberry shirt”, “airplane jacket”, and his “Pickin in the Park hat”! We have also placed one of his hand-made wooden snapper puzzles in his pocket to keep his hands busy! A private, family only, graveside service was held at The Community of Christ Cemetery, Proton. A celebration of life will take place at a future date.
Memorial donations can be made to The Shelburne Residence, Dufferin Oaks, North Dufferin Arena (Honeywood), Ziontario Church Camp, World Accord, or the organization of your choice.