Leo came to Woodlake as a young man in 1942. Times were hard but he found a job working on the drag line in the building of the Alta canal. Something about that good old adobe mud must have held him here, because he’s been here ever since. Or maybe it was the nice people he came to know here.
It was on the main street of Woodlake that he met Miss Ila Jean Smith. They were married in June of 1943. They raised their six children here in the Woodlake area. They now have 16 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
For 23 years Leo worked in the citrus, first at Walter Marks ranch out toward Ivanhoe and then as ranch manager for the Richard’s ranches in the area. He was totally involved in everything that went on at the ranch from swamping oranges, to lighting smudge pots, to driving tractors, to irrigating. That was back in the days when sprinklers were unheard of. Irrigating an orange grove was furrows running full of water, rubber boots and a hoe!
At the Richard ranches there were cattle to be cared for. So now his work included cowboy stuff like roping and branding and castrating calves. And yet he still found time to get a little hunting or fishing done-–practically everyday.
Later on he bought himself a dump truck and hauled sand and gravel wherever it was needed. That is, IF the person needing the sand or gravel could catch him when he wasn’t busy fishing or hunting or playing golf with the PGA (Pete’s Golf Addicts).
Leo was at the first Woodlake Rodeo more than 50 years ago. At practically every rodeo since he’s been on hand and involved in one way or another. He’s prodded cattle into the chutes, drove the water truck, and competed in the team roping among other things, but he’s probably best remembered for the deep-pit barbecue that he and Dave Whiteside served up. We’ll never know just what was in that seasoning, but it was always a hit with the crowd.
Leo’s past membership in the Woodlake Lions Club has included serving in numerous positions, including President, Vice President, Tail Twister, and on the Rodeo Committee Board. He also was a member and Past President of both the Woodlake Sportsman’s Club and the Tulare County Sportsman’s Club. Over the years, he has deep fried literally tons of fish for the Sportsman’s Club and local fish frys.
As Woodlake’s representative for the California Hunter’s Safety Association, he has taught hunter safety to his own children and grandchildren as well as hundreds of other children and adults in Tulare County. He was Woodlake’s “Man of the Year” in 1985.
While he never got a chance to go to high school himself, he has spent more time in the Woodlake grand stands than most students do at their desks. Those in Woodlake who enjoy Pop Warner football and the Alumni Football games can thank Mr. Fry for being instrumental in their start. As a member of the Woodlake High School Booster Club he has been active in picking the “Woodlake Tiger of the Week” at the games for as long as can be remembered. Thank you Leo Fry for your contributions to our community.