Born in Hennepink, Minnesota on August 5, 1936, Richard “Dick” Leroy Leland peacefully entered into rest on August 6, 2022, just one day after his 86th birthday. He is preceded in death by his parents Birney and Lindren Leland, beloved wife Sharon Lou Leland, two daughters Sherry Leland and Julie Leland, and two siblings, Fred Leland, and Diane Dyal.
Mr. Leland is survived by his loving family, Greg Leland (Debbie), Shelley Webb (Rick), and Mike Leland. He was blessed by eight grandchildren Brittany, Michael (Jessica), Lyndi, Macie Kear (Zak Kear), Kaylee, Parker, Camryn, and Presley, and one great granddaughter Joanna Lou.
A resident of Stockton for over 66 years, Richard graduated from Stockton College in 1954. He was an extremely talented athlete earning a football scholarship to Stanford University; unfortunately, a knee injury kept him from attending Stanford. That same year, Richard met the love of his life at a baseball game and married Sharon Seibel in July of 1956. After high school, Richard worked alongside his father in the family business at Stockton Plating as the General Manager and eventually taking over as the owner. His generosity to his community was endless by his numerous sponsorships of local athletic leagues and countless organizations. He retired after 40 years serving many clients who became lifelong friends.
Richard and Sharon’s oldest daughter Sherry was born severely developmentally disabled with microcephaly. They both had a passion for making life better for the developmentally disabled and their families. In 1966, Richard helped orchestrate the opening of the ARC activity center for severely disabled children and served as their president for two terms. In 1970, Richard also helped with the opening of the Walton Development Center now called Walton Special Center, which provides special education services for infants to young adults.
An avid sports enthusiast, it would have been hard to participate in sports in Stockton and surrounding areas and not have known Richard. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s he played semi-pro baseball, was active in the City of Stockton Park and Recreation flag football and softball leagues. His coaching career began in 1961 with Sundown Little League serving as coach, umpire-in-chief and league president. He served Sundown for 20 years. His baseball coaching was not limited to Little League, it also took him to teams in the O’Keefe Babe Ruth League, Joe DiMaggio League, and the American Legion. Richard became a football coach in 1971 with the East Stockton Lions youth team. Richard coached the North Stockton Bengals from 1972-1974. He was instrumental in establishing the Northwest Trojans football program in 1975, serving as the team’s first head coach. In his five-year tenure with the Trojans, Richard compiled an impressive 47-9-2 record, earning the 1974 Northern California Youth Championship title. In between coaching Pop Warner football, Leland found time to coach the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Posse in the “Bacon Bash” from 1979-1982 and again in 1990. In 1978, Richard left youth football to serve as an assistant varsity football coach at Lincoln High School. After four seasons with LHS, he moved on to coach at San Joaquin Delta Community College, spending six seasons as the offensive line coach, retiring after the 1988 season. Richard returned to the sidelines as an assistant coach in 1998; coaching alongside his son Greg, who was the head coach of Sierra High School in Manteca. Richard had a remarkable sports career that touched many young people throughout the central valley that lasted more than 50 years. In honor of his coaching career, Leland was inducted into the Stockton Hall of Fame in March of 2006.
Most of the community knew Richard as Coach Leland, but when he was not on the field, he was an American Cancer Society Volunteer, a member of the Stockton Metropolitan Kiwanis, and a player as well as the president of the men’s senior golf for Brookside Golf and Country Club. Additionally, he was a long-time season ticket holder of the Oakland A’s, Stockton Ports, Stockton Thunder, and he was the voice for the Delta College Mustangs basketball program for close to 40 years.
Of Richard’s community and coaching endeavors, his heart was always with his family. He and Sharon supported their children and grandchildren in their countless school and extracurricular activities. Their unconditional love was evident by their endless dedication to their family.
Richard will be remembered for his integrity, honesty, generosity, and most of all his devotion to family and community. He will be sorely missed by the lives he touched throughout his 86 years of life.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Walton Special Center, 4131 North Crown Avenue, Stockton, CA 95207
The Leland family has entrusted P.L. Fry and Son Funeral Home in honoring Richard Leland’s final wishes. A celebration of life will be held for both Richard and Sharon on Monday, August 15, 2022, at 11:30 a.m. at Lincoln Presbyterian Church, 900 Douglas Road, Stockton.
In a private family ceremony at Stockton Rural Cemetery, Richard will be laid to rest alongside his wife and daughter. For direct condolences to the family, an online tribute page is available at www.plfryandson.com (search tributes for Richard Leland).