MARBLEHEAD, Ohio — A. LeRoy Higley, an accomplished independent construction contractor who built the Marblehead post office and fire station, died Tuesday in his sleep at Elmwood Assisted Living in Fremont. He was 91.
No precise cause of death is known, nor will likely ever be known, his daughter Joy Ceraldi said.
“He just kind of wore out, I think,” she said.
Mr. Higley was born on April 17, 1926 in Elkhart, Ind., to Arthur Lewis and Floreida Ruth Higley. The family moved to Danbury Township in 1937, an area that Mr. Higley would call home for most of his life. He was a student at Danbury High School in 1944 when he joined the Army for two years of service. He was stationed on Canton Island, where he worked as a water purifier.
After the war, he returned to Danbury High School to finish his diploma, graduating in 1947. The former football player was now too old to play for the high school team, so he became the team’s manager.
He attended Bliss Business College in Columbus before returning to Danbury in the early 1950s. He married his first wife, Grayce Higley, in 1950, and started an independent construction contracting company in the mid-1950s, his daughter said.
He built and renovated numerous homes in the area, doing significant amounts of the construction himself. Mrs. Ceraldi remembers watching her dad climb up a ladder with a bucket of asphalt shingles, nailing each one in by hand.
In addition to his construction work, Mr. Higley also worked as a school bus driver, driving the EHOVE route in Danbury Township, and was a substitute and weekend mail carrier for the community.
“He just worked hard all his life,” Mrs. Ceraldi said. “It was just his way.”
Spurred by a for-sale sign as he drove by, Mr. Higley in 1965 purchased the Plymouth Shore Camp, which he would operate as a girls’ camp until 1972.
“It made our lives charmed,” Mrs. Ceraldi, who then experienced horseback riding, archery, and swimming on a regular basis every summer, said. “We had it all right in our backyard.”
After his first wife died, he married Joan Higley, and the two of them managed the camp as a seasonal trailer camp and a host to church retreats until 1985.
He was known by the community as a person always willing to help, Mrs. Ceraldi said, always willing to stop alongside the road and help a broken-down driver who needed help.
“That’s just how the community was,” she said.
He took pride in his military service, Mrs. Ceraldi said, with his regular attendance in the classes she taught as a Veterans’ Day speaker. In 2010, Honor Flight took the two of them to Washington to see the recently opened World War II monument.
“The reception in both cities was more than he expected,” she said.
Mr. Higley is survived by his daughters, Gaile Liddle, Judy Brower, Joy Ceraldi, and Carol Earle; son, Dana Higley; sisters, Alice Leiser and Itha Margaret Twining; nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. The family suggests tributes to the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy or the Ottawa County Museum.
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