Randy George Leypoldt, 65, of Sheridan, Wyoming and formerly of Buhl, Idaho, passed away unexpectedly while on smokejumper pilot duty in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Randy was born in Las Vegas, Nevada to W.E. “Butch” and Cathalan Leypoldt. He grew up and went to school in Las Vegas. While he was in high school, he started taking flying lessons and had a pilot’s license at age 16.
After school, he trained to be a police officer and worked with the North Las Vegas P.D. for roughly 10 years. He served as a patrolman for five years and spent one year with the Las Vegas S.W.A.T. During this time he married Cindy Schindler. In the early 1980’s Randy felt the desire to carry on the family tradition of farming, he and Cindy moved to Buhl, Idaho. Shortly after moving to Buhl he joined the Buhl Fire Department and served the Buhl community as a fireman and EMT from 1984 to 2004.
Randy enjoyed farming, but the skies were calling. He started flying again and worked for Reeder’s Flying Service doing crop dusting. This led to an extensive professional career in aviation, flying, management and litigation. He had expertise in standardization, training programs, check airman, chief pilot and director of operations. His duties included low level operations, aerial application, firefighting, military contacting and low cost-low altitude (LCLA) para-cargo operations into high altitude, high mountain sites and remote off airport landings. Among the many places he flew and dropped cargo was the Arctic sea-ice, Afghanistan and Africa. He did contract work for the U.S. Department of Defense and obtained secret clearance. At the time of his death was working with Big Horn Airways as a contract pilot for the BLM smokejumper crew in Alaska.
In 2002, Randy married Amy Wagner at the smokejumper base in West Yellowstone, Montana. Even though they separated, the maintained a close friendship and love for each other.
Randy loved the outdoors and was an avid trapper, he loved shooting and reloading, fishing, boats and snowmobiles.
He was a member of the Ancient and Freemasons Lodge #78 in Hagerman, Idaho and Lodge #8 in Sheridan, Wyoming. He was a past member of the Buhl Rotary Club, lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, National Smokejumper Association, National Hereford Association and Aircraft owner and Pilot’s Association.
Randy lived a full life of adventure and exploration. He was a large craft that left a turbulent wake! He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Randy was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his partner Amy Wagner; a Brotherhood of Firefighters, Pilots, Smokejumpers and Friends.
Donations in Randy’s name may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org).
A tribute with honors will be held 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at the Flag Poles at the West End Cemetery (1574E. 4150N.) in Buhl, Idaho. Friends and family are invited to meet at the Buhl School Football Field (200 N. 6th Ave.) at 10:45a.m. and follow the Buhl Fire Department in procession to the cemetery. A gathering and meal will be held at the Buhl Fire Department truck bays following the service.
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