Jerry 'Leeo' Gamblin
At home in Sonoma Jerry "Leeo" Gamblin peacefully passed away Saturday, March 5, 2011, following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 71.
His two sons, Lt. Col. Darrin Leeo Gamblin, USAF, of Hawaii and John Allan Gamblin, of San Rafael, survive Leeo. He is also survived by his younger sister, Cynthia June Doyel (Dick), of Susanville; daughters-in-law, Masayo and Lisa; grandchildren, Kento Dean Gamblin, Sarah Ann Gamblin, Makoto Glen Gamblin and Ryan Patrick Gamblin. Leeo was preceded in death by his parents Albert Leaon Gamblin and Vina Irene "Bobbie" Gamblin, of Terra Bella.
Leeo was born on Nov. 25, 1939, in Houston Texas. He and his family later moved to the small central valley town of Terra Bella, where he spent the formative years of his life. An avid and accomplished musician, Leeo played trumpet for the Porterville High School Marching Band and the Studio Band. Taking his passion for music to the next level, after graduation he enlisted in the United States Army in 1958 and attended the prestigious U.S. Naval School of Music. Later he was stationed in San Juan Puerto Rico where he was a member of the 81st Army Band at Fort Buchanan. Leeo left active service in 1960 to go back to school, graduating from Porterville College in 1962 with an associate of arts degree, and the following year attended San Jose State.
While at Porterville College, Leeo's best friend Duane Carroll, currently of Alamo, formed a dance band called The Alan Shiebach Octet. Leeo played trumpet for the group and also met his future wife, Nadine Coates, who was the vocalist. The group performed at various functions in the surrounding area until Duane and Leeo graduated.
Leeo and Nadine married in May 1963, and in 1966 Darrin was born followed by John in 1968. Leeo and Nadine later divorced but remained good friends and proud parents of their two boys.
Leeo started his professional career in 1962 working for Fireman's Fund Insurance in San Jose. He would later leave the corporate side of the business and spend the remainder of his working life as an independent insurance broker/agent in Pleasanton and Pleasant Hill before retiring and moving to Sonoma in 2005, where he became active in the Moose Lodge.
Leeo loved to golf, bowl and fish; he was also a huge baseball fan, from coaching over a decade at all levels in the Pleasanton American Little and Big Leagues to religiously following the Oakland A's from their arrival in the late '60s to the present. Leeo also loved to play poker. He learned the game at an early age sitting around a table with his dad and grandfather, and continued to play right up to the end.
Leeo will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to know him. He was a great father, grandfather, brother, son and friend.
A celebration of his life will be held at the Seven Flags Community Center, 300 International Blvd. Sonoma, on Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Inurnment will be a private family ceremony to be held at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon. A memorial website has also been established for friends to share their memories of Leeo - http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/leeogamblin/homepage.aspx.
Memorial donations can be made to Hospice By The Bay. 190 W. Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476; www.hospicebythebay.org.
Arrangements under the direction of Duggan's Mission Chapel, Mission Cremation Service, 525 W. Napa St., Sonoma.