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Laird, Leland

Leland “Lee” “Wheels” Louis Laird passed away peacefully at Shawano Health Services after a lengthy illness.

05/18/1950-06/22/24
Born Wild & Free

Lee was born in New London and grew up in Hortonville, graduating from Hortonville High School. Not being a conformist, he purchased his first car (which his sister kept in her garage so he couldn’t drive it) before he got his license. He married his high school sweetheart, and they had a beautiful baby girl. His life changed dramatically when he enlisted in the Navy & completed training, including the intense Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) School, then served active duty in the Vietnam War and was later honorably discharged. Leland was an independent child out of necessity, hard worker and drove others to work hard too. He helped in the family apple orchard growing up and worked at Arndt’s Meat Market, Hillshire Farm, owned several hometown bars in various towns, helped with home construction, had a whitewashing business, lived with and helped his sister on her farm and owned a veal farm over the years. Lee personified all that is the best in any of us, and all that is the worst in any of us. One thing he was not, was judgmental of others’ mistakes. Even though he didn’t want to, he sacrificed the thing he loved most in the world so she would have the best life possible. That was love and he felt it was right but he never forgot her. He would see a wrong and do what he could to right it, help anyone in need and give anyone the shirt off his own back. He had many adventures, good and not-so-good, where he lived and died with the benefits and consequences of his choices: a 2nd marriage, an auto accident that left him a paraplegic (and he soon earned the nickname “Wheels” as a result), a 3rd marriage and general rousting about causing mischief here and there throughout his life. But he also loved many people dearly, made many friends and new family over the years. He owned & drove motorcycles, a Jeep Willys, a Cadillac. He lived all over too – in houses, in the woods, in a cottage on the Wolf and later converted a pontoon boat to a house so he could live and fish on the water (which was sometimes parked in Annie’s driveway). Quite the character!

He is survived by his Sister-Doris Larson; Nieces-Jennie Baha & Susan Moderson; Daughter-Lorie (Tom) Colla and their children. He is further survived by Brothers-Raymond & James Laird and Sister-In-Law, Carol Laird; numerous nieces and nephews, other family/extended family members and his Veteran Brothers, who most understood, respected and accepted him just as he was.

Preceded in death by Parents-Clifford Laird & Violet (Carpenter) Milbauer; Stepfather-Charles Milbauer; Brother-Dan Laird; Sister-In-Law-Karen Laird, Niece-Ann Freeman, Nephew-Russ Larson and grandparents-Myrtle & Matthew Carpenter (Mattoon).

The family would like to thank all of the people that have provided health care assistance over the years who are too numerous to mention – including, but not limited to, the staff at Shawano Health Services, who’s staff always joked and giggled with Lee and Bristol Hospice who helped give him the best quality of life possible in his final times.

A Celebration of Lee’s life will be held on Wednesday, July 3rd 2024 at Riverside Park (small pavilion by the former American Legion), 1298 W. Wolf River Ave., New London WI. The Memorial Service for Lee will be held at 2:00 p.m. with visitation taking place from 1:00 p.m. until the time of the service. Service will conclude with Military Honors. A private burial will take place at Ellington Union Cemetery in Stephensville at a later date.

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