William Darrell Leachman, 88, went to be with our Lord on January 27, 2021, from an unanticipated cardiac arrest. Darrell was born and spent his entire life in Amarillo, Texas. He was a graduate of Amarillo High School, Class of 1950, and remained active in the Sandie Alumni Association throughout his life. He attended Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), where he received a degree in Chemical Engineering and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. He loved his Red Raiders and loved to hate the Aggies and “Tea Sippers.”
Upon graduation, Darrell became a Certified Chemical Engineer and worked as a Chemical Engineer for the United States Bureau of Mines (Helium Activity) in Amarillo for 32 years, participating in projects such as determining the feasibility of using helium to cool the Alaska pipeline.
Darrell grew up with a deep love for model airplanes. At age 16, he won national recognition as a model airplane builder and was sent to represent Amarillo at the International Model Airplane Contest in Detroit, Michigan. He had a lifelong love for model aeronautics which led him to continue to build airplanes, to teach and mentor others and to support the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Upon retirement from the Bureau of Mines, Darrell resumed competing and traveled to various locations throughout the United States, achieving honors at various competitions.
Darrell was also an avid outdoorsman. He loved hunting and fishing, which he imparted to his children and grandchildren, many of whom came to share that passion with him. He was a member of the Palo Duro Club and served on the Board of Directors at various times. He loved dogs, and had many throughout his life, all of which he spoiled immensely, and each as precious as little Jocko, the beloved terrier who survived him.
Darrell loved music, especially big band music, including the greats like the Glenn Miller Band. He also especially loved the music of Nat King Cole. He learned to play the saxophone and often played the ukulele to entertain friends and family. He and his wife Alexia shared that love of music. They met and fell in love on the dance floor and enjoyed dancing at the Amarillo Club throughout their marriage.
Darrell loved Amarillo. He loved Texas, and he loved America. He was a descendant of early Amarillo Pioneers who helped found the First Christian Church of Amarillo and donated Benton Park as a lasting legacy to the community. For Darrell and his family, Independence Day, the 4th of July, was a very significant celebration. Given his extraordinary patriotism, background in chemistry and penchant for mischief, the whole family always looked forward to celebrating that holiday with him. He loved all things conservative. He even wore a belt and suspenders most of his life “as an extra precaution,” evidence of that predisposition. He was fiercely independent and made his own decisions and lived life his own way to the very end – a quintessential West Texan.
Darrell was preceded in death by his father, DeWitt Thompson Leachman, who died when Darrell was a young boy. Darrell then had to take on a role to help support his widowed mother very early in life and did so by throwing multiple paper routes for the Amarillo Globe News, which he continued for many years thereafter. Darrell was a devoted son to his mother, Elizabeth Benton Leachman Fowler, who also preceded him in death at the age of 92, in Amarillo, Texas. Darrell was also preceded in death by his stepfather Russell Neff Fowler, who became a real father to Darrell. The two entered into and ran various business ventures in Amarillo. He was also preceded in death by his older brother Dr. Robert DeWitt Leachman, a world class cardiologist of whom he was immensely proud.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Alexia Hall Leachman, who was a devoted wife and mother. Darrell was also immensely proud of and survived by his three children, a doctor, a lawyer and a pharmacist. His three children are Dr. Sancy Leachman (and husband Craig Eroh), Russell DeWitt Leachman (and wife Margaret), and Karan Leachman King (and husband Steven King). He was also survived by seven grandchildren: Justin Scott King, William Benton Leachman (and wife Katie), Richard Boone Leachman, Catherine Marin King, Guy Darrell Eroh, Alexia Susan Eroh, and Elizabeth Feuille Leachman. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Dr. DeWitt Richard Leachman (and wife Marcy), Linda Leachman Paisley, and Catherine Leachman, as well as their children, Dr. Robert Paisley, Meredith Leachman Smith, Rev. Taylor Leachman, Kate Paisley Huckins, and Kelly Leachman Lucy.
A funeral service will be held at the Boxwell Brothers Funeral Home for Darrell’s family on February 2, 2021. Darrell will be buried at Llano Cemetery. A memorial celebration in his honor will be held sometime later this year.
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