LeRoy Marquardt, long-time resident of Inyokern, went to the big “feed barn” in Heaven on June 10, 2013. At age 82, he passed away peacefully at Loma Linda Medical Center.
LeRoy was born in 1931 in Hooper, Nebraska to June and Chester Marquardt. He learned his strong work ethic of honesty, dependability, and tenacity growing up on a farm as a young boy. These ethics essentially led him to becoming a dedicated and valuable civil servant of 30 years, business owner, and spokesperson in his community. LeRoy attended school in Scribner, Nebraska, where he met his high school sweetheart, Norma Jean Furstenau. They were married on March 20, 1949 and spent the next 64 years of their lives together. LeRoy served 4 years in the Air Force before attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where he obtained a B.A. in Electrical Engineering. While attending college, he also worked part-time as an amateur photographer, for which he received numerous awards.
He and Norma and their two daughters, Patti and Cindy, moved to Ridgecrest in March 1957 when LeRoy accepted a position at the Naval Ordnance Test Station at China Lake as a Junior Professional Electrical Engineer. During his career, LeRoy held various positions including Division Head and Associate Department head of different programs that involved the RDT&E of electronic warfare components, subsystems, and systems.
Major programs he worked on were HARM, Shrike, and ERASE. He also worked on the development of fuze components for Phoenix, Sidewinder, and Standard ARM. He was heavily involved in the exploratory development of digital control systems, autopilots, and data links, in addition to being the Program Coordinator for the weapon aspects of Ships Intermediate Range Combat System. He was also responsible for the development of full-scale aircraft targets and new concepts for remotely piloted vehicles.
LeRoy obtained his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California (USC) in June 1970 and his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from USC in June 1974.
LeRoy loved the Indian Wells Valley and was very active in the community. He served as the President of the Inyokern Chamber of Commerce and was active in forming the Groundwater Management Committee, which meets each month. He was also instrumental in getting the Kern Water Agency to monitor domestic wells. LeRoy took great pride in helping make Ridgecrest and Inyokern a better place to live for the people he cared about.
In 1975, LeRoy built a store for Norma to manage after she got her degree in Business Administration from Chapman College. They named their business “Country Feed Barn.” After his retirement in 1982, LeRoy joined Norma in running the store, which has thrived over the past 37-1/2 years.
In his spare time, LeRoy enjoyed water skiing, motorcycle racing (especially the Barstow-to-Vegas race), golfing, and shooting. There wasn’t anything that he couldn’t fix, and he loved showing his grandchildren how to pound nails and dig postholes. They also had fun lizard hunting, stomping scorpions, fishing, and playing basketball. The kids thought their grandpa was “cool.”
Page 2 of 2 - LeRoy is survived by his wife, Norma; daughter, Patti Marquis and her partner, Larry Franklin; daughter and son-in-law Cindy and Rick Essells; grandchildren, Natalie, Ben, and Andy Essells; and beloved pet and guard dog of Country Feed Barn, Muffy.
A celebration of LeRoy’s life will be held on Friday, June 21, at 1 p.m. at Crossroads Community Church. Please bring memories to share and come dressed in attire similar to what LeRoy would wear. Instead of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the China Lake Museum Foundation, P.O. Box 217, Ridgecrest, CA 93556, which was one of his favorite organizations.