By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Guy Leeder, who for decades was synonymous with Clovis softball, died Monday night at 64.
Services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at the Marshall Junior High Auditorium.
Leeder, a state softball hall of fame inductee, was called the cornerstone of the state’s Amateur Softball Association by its director, Alice Cox.
“He has done more for softball in this state in the 60-some odd years he was here than anybody,” Cox said. “It doesn’t matter who you talk to. You say Guy Leeder, they know exactly who you’re talking about and they have the utmost opinion for who he was and what he did.”
Leeder, who owned an electric business, died of liver and kidney failure, according to a friend.
He was born July 21, 1942, in Sealey, Texas, to Virgil and Wilma Jean Purdy Leeder.
Former players and softball administrators described Leeder as a good family man, a friend and — in at least one case — an above-average ping-pong player.
“I played ping-pong against him a lot of times,” said Don Clifton, who played for Leeder off and on for 15 years. “He was one that used a lot of English on the ball. It didn’t matter what it was, he was a competitor.”
It was Leeder’s competitive drive that pushed him into slow-pitch softball. He coached his first game in 1967 and compiled more than 2,500 wins.
“It was just the love of playing and not wanting to give up baseball, that’s all slow-pitch is,” Leeder said in a 2005 interview with the Clovis News Journal. “We’re all baseball players, and when we got too old to play it, we went to the alternative, which was not great, but it kept us doing something.”
That love led to Leeder and other volunteers building the Clovis Softball Complex, which was named after him in 1989.
“He started out with just a single field in 1971,” said Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas, a family friend and a state ASA Hall of Famer himself. “Over the years, it expanded to five fields. He would have liked to build more if space was available.”
Roger Jackson is the CSA’s tournament director and co-creator of the Custom Classic, the biggest tournament held at the complex.
“Everything we wanted to do, Guy would tell us how to make it better, make it an event softball players would remember,” Jackson said.
Jackson said he’d exchanged e-mails and emotional phone calls with several coaches around Texas and New Mexico.
Several of those teams are planning to come and pay their respects, part of the reason services have been moved to the Marshall Junior High Auditorium.
Tributes will continue throughout the year.
Jackson said volunteers are planning to build a fountain with a bracket board on one side and a fountain on the other to serve as a backdrop for team photos.
“Guy wanted this fountain built,” Jackson said, “and we’re going to build it for him.”
Leeder is survived by his wife, Paulette; a daughter, Laura; a granddaughter, Taya Marie; his father; a brother, Greg and a sister, Saron Jolley.