Clarence Leon Speer was born July 4th, 1926, in Rusk County, Texas, to Edna Hazel Lehman and Claude Estril Speer. He was born on a former cotton plantation, in a historic mansion called Monte Verdi Plantation, which is now a part of a National Register of Historic Place worthy of preservation in the National Park Service, offering tours to the public. When Leon was one year old, his parents left Texas and moved out to Arizona to his grandparent’s ranch, south of Cochise, and stayed for several weeks. His parents then moved to Phoenix where his father attended Barber College. After five months of training, the family moved to Wilcox, Arizona, where his father managed a barber shop for a year. From there the family moved to Douglas where his father worked another few month’s barbering. In July, 1929, when Leon was 3 years old, the family moved to Lordsburg and stayed there until 1931. His father moved the family to San Angelo, Texas, where he purchased a barber and beauty shop. The Great Depression hit and he lost his business there and luckily his former boss in Lordsburg offered him his old job back. He and his family returned to Lordsburg in 1932. Leon started school in the fall of that year.
During his growing up years, he worked at the age of 12 in his father’s barber shop shining shoes and later held jobs at service stations. He also worked at the railroad depot as an assistant express agent, typing, handling baggage, and in the summer time he spent time calling crews from midnight until 8am.
Leon graduated from Lordsburg High School in May of 1944. Since the war was ongoing, Leon joined the United States Navy and left for boot camp on September 4th, 1944, in San Diego, California. After completing boot camp in November, he returned to Lordsburg and married his sweetheart, Margaret Amanda Bradberry. In December, Leon left for Hawaii and was stationed at the fire station at the Naval Supply Depot at Pearl Harbor and later was moved to the fire station at Pearl City, Hawaii, where he became Assistant Fire Chief before returning home.
He served 1- 1/2 years in the Navy, there in Hawaii when the war ended, and in February, 1946, he returned home and was reunited with his wife. In May, they moved to Fort Worth, Texas where Leon enrolled in Barber College until November of 1946. They returned to Lordsburg and Leon went into business with his father at “Speer’s” Barber Shop on Main Street. In 1948, Leon and Margaret were blessed with a baby boy named Steven Leon Speer, who later served honorably for 30 years in the United States Air Force. Four years after Steven was born, Margaret gave birth to a second baby boy named Paul Dean Speer, who later served honorably for four years in the United States Navy.
In 2006, Leon became sick with the shingles and it paralyzed his right hand, making it hard for him to hold scissors and work as a barber. Leon officially retired from “Speer’s” Barber shop and closed it down. He had a barber shop built in his backyard for family and close friends, so that he could continue to cut hair. On December 2nd, 2017, Leon was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints. In October of 2018, Leon and Margaret were sealed in the Gila Valley Arizona Temple, for time and all eternity.
Leon worked over 60 years barbering in Lordsburg, making many wonderful friends. He also served out community and various organizations for many years. He was a charter member of the B.P.O. Elks #1813, for 25 years. He was the president of Lordsburg Chamber of Commerce for 1 year in 1970. He served as treasurer of Hidalgo County Old Timers from 1968-1981, and was a member of the Masonic Lodge #30, AF & AM for over 50 years. He served as secretary, for many years, served as worshipful master, and was awarded a 50-year membership and honorary lifetime membership by the Silver City Masonic Lodge. He was a member of the Lordsburg Hidalgo County Museum from its beginning, working along with Allen Hill, who was president, was chosen to serve as a board member, and was actively involved in the Boot Hill Cowboy Poetry gathering at the Lordsburg Museum, every year.
On Sunday, April 11, 2021, Leon was air backed to Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. After being incoherent and hurting, two days later, on Tuesday, April 13th, 2021, at 4:45pm, He passed away. Just weeks prior to the hospital, Leon had two bad falls, which we believe were contributed to his passing.
Leon is survived by his wife, Margaret, 2 sons, 5 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, and 2 great, great grandchildren.
Visitation will begin Saturday, April 24, 2021 from 9 to 10 o’clock in the morning at Central Elementary School. Funeral services will follow at 10 with Bishop Mathew Miller officiating. Concluding services and interment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery with the dedication of the grave conducted by Paul D. Speer. Military honors will be accorded. Services will be live streamed, via zoomed by the family.
Serving as pallbearers will be Tim Speer, Jason Speer, Sean Speer, Tyler Speer, Dartanyen Speer, Teagan Speer, Kyle Reynolds, Alex and Thomas Magdaleno
Honorary bearers will be Paul Speer, Steve Speer, Ronnie Hurt, Edward “Sandy” Fisher, Art Malott, Eugene Moore, Ronnie Barns, Arnulfo Magdaleno, Jim Culberson, Alan Strain and Manuel D.V. Saucedo.
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