Obituary of Leland Kenneth Pauly
Leland Kenneth Pauly died peacefully on December 18, 2017, at age 93, having suffered a severe stroke on December 11th. Leland was born on October 11, 1924 in Browns Valley, and arrived in Camptonville at age 6 in 1930, where his father, Julius Pauly, relocated the family while operating the stage run from Marysville to Downieville. His mother, Grace, was both a teacher and, with the help of her daughter Katherine, ran the telephone switchboard. The youngest of five children, Leland remained in Camptonville for the rest of his life, and considered himself “the sibling who stayed home.” He watched over his widowed mother until she passed in 1982.
During WWII Leland served with the 15th Air Force Wing as a tail gunner in a turret of a B-24, out of Southern Italy. He flew 50 missions, primarily over the Balkans. On one mission, his plane, full of fuel and bombs, made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff. From his rear position, Leland simply recalled, “We took out about 150 feet of Italian grapevines”. On another mission, to restore control of the plane, his fellow gunner would be asked to shoot off shards of metal from the plane’s damaged rudder, relying on a perfect shot, knowing an imperfect shot would bring down the plane. Following Leland’s 50th and final mission, the plane in which he last flew was shot down, leaving only two survivors. Leland was awarded the US Army Air Medal, adorned with three oak-leaf clusters for bravery and six campaign stars. In a 1977 newspaper interview, Leland described his philosophy about his military experience as, “I just did what they told me, and it always worked out. I found myself doing things I would never have thought of myself.”
For 2 years following his discharge, Leland attended the Colorado School of Trades to study gunsmithing. Returning home, Leland served as the local gunsmith, whose talent was sought by many hunters from surrounding counties. He worked at the Meek Mercantile store and local sawmill, and in 1961, John F. Kennedy appointed Leland Camptonville Postmaster, until he retired in 1984.
Leland served as Camptonville’s quasi historian, and unofficial census taker through his role as postmaster. “If somebody had a kid and didn’t tell me, the census couldn’t be updated” he said with a laugh, in a 6/2005 interview with the Appeal Democrat. Leland’s historian efforts included transcribing handwritten notes of local legend, William Bull Meek. Leland maintained historical records and identified hiking trails in the surrounding mountains while hunting, fishing, and taking photos. He said he wanted to make a record of “places that don’t exist anymore.”
Serving as secretary for 15 years, Leland is a former Master of the Gravel Range Masonic Lodge No. 59 (now known as the Mountain Range Lodge 18) and has been active in the Veterans Foreign Wars, the Grange, and a number of other organizations. Leland was an avid and knowledgeable gardener, and his interest in photography resulted in a huge photo library of local scenes and beautiful wildflowers. In an article dated 7/29/04 by David Mirhadi, Leland joked, “I have seniority in this town. Not that that means anything.”
In 1966 Leland married Colleen Van Duyne and acquired an instant family of 4 kids ages 10-16. He remarried around 1976 to Gladys Mae Barton, and after she passed, to A. Lou Stewart, who passed in 1999.
Leland leaves nephews, Allan Johnson (Yuba City), Paul Pauly (Boise), and Harold Price (Las Vegas), and nieces Nadine Tackitt (Boise) and Janet George (Oregon), and stepdaughters Connie Crockett (Grass Valley) and Collette Swaringen (El Dorado Hills). At his request, Leland will have a Masonic ceremony at the Masonic Lodge in Camptonville, followed by the
internment of his ashes in the Camptonville cemetery during Leland’s favorite time of year, when the tiger lily blooms in mid-June. Further information will be provided in advance.
Leland requested that any contribution in his name be made to the Camptonville Historical Society, in care of CHS, P.O. Box 153, Camptonville, CA 95922.
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