Ralph Wheeler Leland


My Grandfather, My Mentor, My Hero

Ralph Wheeler Leland    Ralph Leland passed away Sept. 18, 1996 and with this passing went a man who was a valued member of his family, community, township country, county and Farm Bureau. Ralph grew up on a farm in Northfield Township and in conversations with his son, he said he was about 19-years-old and filling silo one day when he was approached by a representative from Washtenaw County Farm Bureau, who asked him to join and he did. This was the very early days of Farm Bureau. He continued to be a member and staunch supporter of Farm Bureau through the rest of his life.

    Mr. Leland was a member of the Wesley Methodist Church in Whitmore Lake and one of the original members of the Good Neighbor Farm Bureau Community Group. He served on the Washtenaw Farmer's Oil Board, the Township Board of Trustees for 20 years, the Soil Conservation Board, MMPA (Michigan Milk Producers Association) and in later years was a member of the Northfield Historical Society. Mr. Leland was very progressive. He was well read, innovative and believed in trying new ideas. He was one of the first farmers in the area to have a combine. He was a firm believer in "do-it-yourself." If a machine broke down or a tire went flat, his belief was "fix-it-yourself." His son, Bob (Dave's father) remembers struggling to remove the clutch from the bulldozer for repair and had about decided to give up and take it someplace to be fixed. His dad went home, mulled it over in his mind, came back the next morning, told him what to do, he did it and was successful at removing it. Ralph's theory was, "look at the problem, study it, and figure it out." He was a frugal man - not throwing anything away, saying "that might come in mighty handy." He was a very even tempered man, seldom losing his temper and always with a smile on his face. He enjoyed traveling in his later years and went to California with friends an visited with many of the area farmers. He attended the Farm Bureau Convention in Hawaii, traveled to Alaska with a church group, to England and Holland with MMPA and to some European countries with family members.

    Mr. Leland was married to the late Helen Duncan and is survived by a son Robert (Marcia) Leland and a daughter, Nancy Leland Ehnis (Karl), five Grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. (This story was written by: Margaret Gyde for the Michigan Farm Bureau magazine)

Dave Leland

Copyright 1997-2007, Revised: Monday, 06 August 2007