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Leroy Lavern Kiphuth

biography

I was born in Buffalo, Minnesota in May 1953. I grew up and was raised by my paternal grandparents on a farm in Monticello, MN. At a very young age (4-5), I helped with farm chores and learned to drive my grandfather’s tractor. From a very young age, I had an innate curiosity of how mechanical things worked. When I was six years old, I took apart the engine of my grandfather’s new tractor. This earned me a spanking since I didn’t know how to put it back together. Grandpa wasn’t happy! To this day, I like to build equipment and restore vehicles.

I attended schools in Monticello, MN, from elementary to graduation in 1971. I knew I would be drafted into the military, so in early 1971, my good friend, John and I went to the recruiting office together. He joined the Air Force, I went to the Navy. I chose to join the Navy rather than be selected for the Army. I went to RTC Great Lakes from Nov 1971 to Jan 1972. Having experience with heavy equipment on the farm, I wanted to join the SeeBees; however, the school in San Diego had closed by the time I completed boot camp.

My first assignment was three days of temporary duty on the USS Arcturus (AF-52). I was then transferred to the USS Truckee (AO-147), also on temporary duty, for six weeks from Feb 1972 to March 1972. My final duty station was at COMSERVRON 6 and part of the USS Cascade (AD-16) 6th Fleet, stationed in Naples, Italy from Feb 1972 to March 1976. My primary duties were as staff driver for the Commodore and motor pool vehicles maintenance. My fellow shipmates knew me as "Kip", short for Kiphuth. While stationed in Naples, I met the woman who would become my wife. To this day she calls me Kip.

At the end of my enlistment, I requested an overseas discharge and in late March 1976, my future wife and I flew back to the USA. We flew into Norfolk, VA to pick-up my Chevy NOVA, then drove to Washington, D.C. to spend some time with my future father-in-law, who was stationed at the Pentagon (he was career Navy). On April 1, 1976, we arrived in Monticello and surprised my grandparents. I married my wife in May 1977. We’ve been married 46 years and blessed with one daughter, born in 1979, and two beautiful grandchildren, a grandson in 2008 and a granddaughter in 2019.

Once settled in Monticello, I was hired by the Monticello Township in 1977 where I worked for the next 41 years as the road maintenance supervisor and foreman. In Aug 2017, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer, and had to retire. I underwent a stem cell transplant in April 2018 and am now considered in remission, but not cancer-free.

When not going to doctors' appointments, I spend my time working on various projects. One project I am starting with my grandson's help is rebuilding a 1951 Ford pick-up truck. I have a passion for old vehicles, as well as creating and building tools to facilitate building and taking care of anything around our property.

The house my wife and I built in 1985 sits on 3.5 acres of land adjacent to the where I grew up. Although the farm was sold many years ago and the farmhouse torn down, the memories of those days growing up on the farm are still with me. As my wife says, I am still a farm boy at heart.

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