Leonard William Shilhanek 1947 - 2021

Our dad was born Leonard William Shilhanek in Britton, South Dakota, the sixth child of ten on what was likely a frigid day, February 6, 1947. His parents, Reuben Franklin Shilhanek ("RF") and Ethel (Vietmeier) Shilhanek made their living owning service stations, junk yards and farms throughout their lives. From Dad's accounts, he grew up working on most gas-powered and/or mechanical things with his father, driving a pickup truck way too early for his own good, and knowing the value of a good pair of shoes. Dad's family moved around a few times--Scio, Stayton, Aumsville, then Amity--where he ended up meeting a cheerleader named Cherylle Jean Lenhardt and graduated from Amity High School one year prior to her. According to legend, Dad took her out on one of their first dates and Mom burned her finger on the car cigarette lighter Dad claimed had "never worked before." [Good one, Dad!]

They got married June 17, 1967, living first in McMinnville, Oregon, and then moving to 20 acres just outside of Dayton, Oregon. At the time, Dad relocated their trailer home to the property and commenced building the first half of what would be their permanent home structure; the first half was adjoined to the trailer, then once completed, he started on the second half and pulled the trailer portion away. We always enjoyed telling people that one half of our house was older than the other. Through home construction and Dad's full-time professional life (inspired by his father) as a journeyman pipe fitter, he and Mom had three daughters over a five-year period: Gina René in 1969, Lisa Michelle in 1971, and Misti LaDawn in 1974.

Our dad drove to Portland early every morning with his lunchbox, peanut butter and jelly sandwich and coffee-filled thermos so we could have a life where we raised animals, grew food, rode three-wheelers and horses, went fishing and camping and got to live in a town and attend a school where everyone knew your name. Many people took Dad for a stoic guy, and he was a quiet thinker, but he had a humor about him that always had us side-eye-snickering or Hawaiian-punching each other in jest. Dad sat in the stands to watch our sports games; he came to our graduations, weddings; and if ever there was a thing that needed to be fixed or built or re-engineered, Dad knew how to do it. He retired from pipe fitting, UA Local 290, after 37+ years of dutiful service and received his 50-year union pin. Dad and Mom ended up moving a few times--to Amity, Salem, and back to Dayton. Over the years, they welcomed grandkids (and great-grandkids), and Dad became a loving "Pa" to many.

For such a strong man in body and mind, it seemed surreal to us when he received a diagnosis of lung cancer in August of 2020. Through various treatments and progression of the disease itself, Dad showed up in word and deed for us, unwavering in his love for his family. True to his very being, he never desired spotlight nor spectacle, only that folks remember him for the good times and the fact that he didn't want to leave us so soon. As such, in honor of his wishes, no formal services will be held; the family will be gathering to circle ‘round the fire, roast a hot dog or marshmallow and "love Dad up" with all our stories and remembrances.
Our Dad..."Gone Fishin'," October 28, 2021.

Dad’s immediate family includes his wife of 54+years, Cherylle; daughters/partners: Gina and Jim Kemp; Lisa and Derek Fergus, and their children, Tristan and Kaylin, Alex, Cade and Kaden; Misti and Greg White, and their children, Andrew and Maddy, and great-grandkids, Henry and Owen, Jered and Carol, Mitchell, Noah and Brin.

For whomever wishes, donations in Dad's memory can be made to Willamette Valley Hospice.


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