Obituary of Leslie Dean Gennette
Leslie “Jumbo” Gennette, age 91, passed away on Wednesday May 24, 2023, in the loving care of family at his home in Bruneau, Idaho. Arrangements are under the care of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel.
Leslie was born in Butte, Montana on April 14, 1932. His father, Homer, lost his life in a mining accident when Leslie was only 10 days old. Though fatherless, Leslie was taken under the wings of loving family members, and he grew up happily blessed with their love and support. Keeping up with the McKelveys was never dull. They were his best times on the big ranch on Prickly Pear Creek with his cousin Laramie. They rode their horses to school – rain, shine or snow – and it was “all uphill both ways” as he liked to tell it. At age 10, he rode the train solo from Missoula to Seattle. He was a regular at Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe at Pike’s Market in Seattle. He picked fruit in Yakima. And he fished and swam. He rode his bicycle over Chinook Pass (Mt. Rainier) from Yakima to Seattle, eating berries on the roadside when hungry. He went to the movies, and he played baseball – wherever and whenever he could. Fun fact: During his youth in Yakima, another youngster in Yakima was also going to movies and playing baseball wherever and whenever she could – that youngster was Ella Mae Jewett – but they would not meet until years later in Bruneau, Idaho! In Yakima, Dad pitched and fielded for the Logan Wheelers Post 36 Junior Legion baseball team, coached by the legendary John Zaepfel, and they won the regional championship in 1950. Dad left Yakima soon after to meet with destiny in Bruneau. When the Logan Wheelers Post 36 team won the World Series in 1953, Leslie and Ella were married and had a baby named Marcia. Leslie missed the 1953 World Series hoopla, which included a trip to NYC, a parade, and meeting Marilyn Monroe, but he had won his biggest prize of all – the love of his life, Ella.
The new family’s journey took them to Boise, where Leslie worked. They loved to tell the name of the street on which their humble rental abode was situated - Park Avenue! To make ends meet, Leslie summoned all his talents, and so, to earn extra money, he joined the boxing circuit. To get in shape, he jogged the streets of Boise in his regular street shoes. In the early 1950’s in Boise, jogging had not yet been invented, and some mistook him for a robber!
Eventually, Leslie and Ella made Bruneau their permanent home, and Jumbo completed his bucket list. Marrying the prettiest girl in town and building a log house were his dream, and in Bruneau, he realized his dream.
He built on that dream big time – five kids and a ranch, a gas station/community gathering place, chief of the fire department, which consisted of an old fire truck that he bought elsewhere and drove to Bruneau. Jumbo was adventurous, fun-loving, and kind. He often accepted trades for gas, and he gave the high schoolers free gas when they needed it – especially if they were friends of his special Tracie girl. He loved life, including fishing on the Salmon River, gambling at Jackpot or Les Bois Park (he was lucky!), swimming at Rimrock (using his old boxer shorts for a swimsuit!), galloping his big horse, Blue, and sailing over the fence, even though Blue decided not to jump at the last minute so only Jumbo sailed over! He cared about the environment before it was cool, joining Ducks Unlimited in the late 60’s.
He delighted all with his sense of humor. He especially loved “sayings,” such as “I was born with nothing, and I still have most of it left” or “I thought getting old would take longer!” or “If I win the lottery, I’m going to keep farming till it’s gone!” or the sign he posted near his garden, “Free weeds, pick your own!”
He loved cars and owned many over the years. He kept a list of all the cars he ever owned, and it was a long list. His pride and joy were the 1963 Pontiac GTO that he completely restored in his “spare” time. He built his own fences and some gates at the ranch, and you will pass through those gates if you visit the log house today.
He was positive and good humored, often whistling while he worked. And he was brave – nothing could intimidate or scare Jumbo. Jumbo was a survivor. He lived long and prospered, and now he can rest in peace.
Leslie is survived by his wife of 71 years, Ella (Jewett) Gennette, and his five children, Marcia (David) Simpson, Roxanne (Steve) Storey, Buzz (Cinda) Gennette, Lance (Alice) Gennette, and Tracie (Carey) Kinghorn, 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and a wide circle of beloved friends and extended family.
Leslie is preceded in death by his father, Homer Gennette, his mother, Alfreda McKelvey and his grandmother, Flora Youpe, of Butte, Montana.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leslie Gennette, please visit Tribute Store