Leonard Eugene Davaz
Leonard Eugene Davaz, better known as “Curly,” passed away on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, surrounded by his loving wife and five children. He was 88.
Born on Aug. 15, 1932 in Ruby, WA, Curly’s family moved to Dalkena when he was a young boy. He attended Cusick Grade School and Cusick High School, where he excelled at sports, including football, basketball, and track. When his family relocated to Newport during his high school years, Curly rode the Newport school bus to the Dalkena Store and then transferred to the Cusick bus, determined to finish high school with his friends. He stayed in contact with those friends his entire life. He later worked at Jackson Motors and saved enough to trade the yellow school bus for a yellow Mercury. Yellow always was his favorite color.
After graduating in 1951, Curly joined the Navy and became part of a construction battalion known as the “The Seabees.” He served in the Korean War and was honorably discharged in 1953. He returned home – and returned to his roots. His father and stepfather had been loggers, so he too took up the trade, working for Diamond Match as a log truck driver. A few years later, Curly’s mother, Harriet Emch, mortgaged their home to help Curly buy his own logging truck. During that period, Curly met and married his dear wife, Gladys. Until the very end, the most important thing to Curly was having her by his side. He later co-founded a logging business called C&D Logging with his uncle, Frances “Fuzzy” Cole.
Back then, Curly never walked anywhere. He ran. During the week, he could be seen running from the woods to his logging truck, from his logging truck to the house, and back again. There was even a good chance he would challenge you to a race, which he would always win, one way or another. If he wasn’t cleaning and maintaining his logging truck and equipment on the weekend, he was racing snowmobiles. His children remember (mostly fondly) traveling to races as far away as Yellowstone. They recall how, on the straight stretches, he would hold onto the handle bars and lie flat on his stomach for maximum speed. How he never let them quit when they themselves were racing. And then there was that one time during a cross-country race, when his team broke down, repaired their sleds on the spot, and still won the race.
In 1969, Curly and Gladys opened Curly’s Sales and Service in Priest River, ID. On any given day, Curly could be found rebuilding a chainsaw, discussing the latest Arctic Cat snowcats, or drinking coffee next door with his friends. He was an honest and fair businessman. Every customer was valued, and everyone got the same deal. If a logger broke their saw, Curly either had it fixed by quitting time, or offered a lender so the logger could be back on the job the next day. With Curly, you always knew where you stood. You could call him anytime for advice and get a straight answer. And he made it clear when the conversation was over because he just hung up the phone – only to call back thirty minutes later with some new advice because he had been thinking about it.
Curly and Gladys retired in 1996 and moved to the family homestead on LeClerc Creek near Cusick, WA. He may have stopped running by then, but he didn’t slow down. He could be seen mowing the grass on his meticulous nine-tee, one-hole golf course or moving rock with his skid steer. As he always said, “The worst kind of riding is better than the best kind of walking.” Curly loved antique gas pumps and automobile memorabilia, the Dallas Cowboys, polka dancing, and saltine crackers topped with peanut butter and a smidgen of Miracle Whip. He was truly one-of-a-kind.
Curly will be remembered as a steadfast, reliable husband, father, brother, grandfather, and friend. When he was needed, he showed up. If there was a graduation, class reunion (especially one of his own Cusick school reunions), wedding, or birthday party, he showed up. He was the first one there and—to be fair—the first one to leave.
Now he’s gone for good, and with heavy hearts, we say goodbye. Curly has hung up the phone. We will sure miss talking to him.
Curly was preceded in death by his parents Henry Davaz and Harriet Emch, stepfather Walter Emch, mother-in-law Dorothy Davaz, brother Robert Davaz, sister-in-law Clara Davaz,brother-in-law Orville Gibbins, brother-in-law Duane Randolph, and granddaughter Summer Leen. He is survived by his sisters Judy Randolph, Frances Burrell and husband Doug Burrell, and Wendy Banka and husband Ron Banka, children Carole White, Tina Rea and husband Ron Rea, Trudy Leen and husband Neal Leen, Theresa Watson, and Neil Davaz and wife Jeannine Davaz, 16 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Memorials may be sent to Pend Oreille County Fire District (PO Box 287, Ione, WA 99132) or Usk Community Center (c/o Barb McGill, PO Box 343, Usk, WA 99180).
Sherman-Campbell Funeral & Cremation Services in Newport is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guest book at shermancampbell.com.