He was instrumental in founding the Atascadero Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial foundation and the construction of the monument
ATASCADERO — It was fitting that friends and family gathered in front of the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial on Friday to celebrate the life U.S. Navy World War II veteran LeRoy S. (Ted) Dodge.
Dodge was remembered as a patriotic, hard-working and loving husband, father, and grandfather, who wore many hats and was a fan of the San Francisco Giants.
Dodge, a 1945 Atascadero High School graduate, was instrumental in founding the Atascadero Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial foundation and the construction of the monument itself.
Dodge was 93 when he passed away March 30 after suffering a stroke and heart attack in early March. Dodge was buried at Pine Mountain Cemetery in Atascadero. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a public memorial was scheduled for later when guidelines were relaxed to allow for larger gatherings.
Nearly 100 people attended Friday’s nearly two-hour military ceremony that was led by his son, Fred Dodge, and per his wishes, included his grandchildren. Fred donned several of his father’s hats throughout the ceremony.
On Veterans Day in 2019, former Atascadero Mayor and another Faces of Freedom Founder, Tom O’Malley presented Dodge with a framed photo of the Faces of Freedom Memorial during the ceremony and honored Dodge as the Distinguished Veteran of the Year.
A native of Fargo, N.D., Dodge was born in February of 1927. He moved with his family to Atascadero and graduated from Atascadero High School in 1945 via an early enlistment in the U.S. Navy. After graduating from boot camp and radio school, Dodge was assigned to a Patrol Craft Escort as a radioman, Third class, and was off to fight on the Pacific front in WWII.
Dodge married his high school sweetheart and neighbor Peggy Simpson in March of 1947, and they had four sons together while living in Atascadero between 1947 and 1951. Peggy and LeRoy were married for 73 years. All four of their sons — Fred, Dave, Bill and Rick — were able to attend the Veterans Day ceremony to see their father honored.
After his time in service, he worked in the poultry processing business for the next 33 years. He managed poultry processing plants and feed mills in Atascadero, Modesto, Dinuba and Santa Ynez before moving his family to Valley Home in 1961. There he transitioned to selling, building, restoring and installing poultry processing equipment throughout the Western United States.
In 1978, he began building his Mountain Ranch home, shortly after that establishing the Calaveras Tool Equipment rental business. From 1994 until early 2020, he made wine and olive oil display boxes for California wineries and olive oil distributors. His family was tremendously blessed by his incredible woodworking talents, farming skills and amazing generosity.
Dodge was a member of the Farm Bureau, VFW Post 2600 and the St. Matthews Episcopal Church in San Andreas.
Dodge is survived by his wife, Peggy, brother, Jim, sons, Fred (Kathy), Dave (Peggy), Bill (Mary), and Rick (Charlotte), 11 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
All of the grandchildren recalled the great memories they have from spending the entire summer between their eighth-grade and freshman year on either Valley Home or Mountain Ranch with their grandparents.
The Central Coast Leatherneck Color Guard did the Rendering of Military Honors.
Sean and Linda Dodge led the crowd in the singing of three hymns, concluding with the service with “Amazing Grace.”
Rick Dodge read the obituary and Bill Dodge delivered the eulogy. Son Dave Dodge and grandchildren, Marcie Gregory, Heather Bahne, and Tim Dodge, offered scripture readings that reminded them of LeRoy and fond memories of the family’s patriarch. Sean Dodge filled in for grandchild Lila Thullen, who was unable to make the service.