Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Jack Ray McLeod, 77

| February 18, 2024 12:00 AM

Jack Ray McLeod, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and mentor passed away peacefully on Jan. 23, 2024 at the age of 77.

Jack was born in Billings, in 1946. His family settled in Havre, where he graduated from Havre High School in 1964. He went on to earn a football scholarship to Montana State University Northern (formerly Northern Montana College), where he graduated with a degree in history. During this time, he was fortunate to spend his summers as a seasonal park ranger in Glacier National Park, a place that would forever hold special meaning in his heart. He later earned a master's degree in education from the University of Montana.

He loved his family. He met the love of his life, Dawn Sykes, in 1968, and they married the following year. Together, they went on to raise four children, Scott, Brett, Jewel, and Beau.

Jack's passion for teaching and mentoring others was evident throughout his career as an educator. He began teaching in Nashua, in 1971, before moving to Kalispell, Montana in 1973. For 24 years he was a dedicated social studies, geography, and English teacher at West Valley School. He also served as a consultant for the Montana Geographic Alliance. He was awarded fellowships that took him to South Korea and Russia where he helped middle school students build connections across the globe. Jack retired in 1998 to focus on his health.

In 2000, Jack received a second chance at life thanks to a generous heart donor. He was forever grateful for this gift and lived each day to the fullest. This was never more evident than through the love he showed for his family and friends. Shortly following the successful transplant, Jack and Dawn moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where Jack became an active member of the community and an op-ed writer for the Shreveport Times. 

Jack’s presence never went unnoticed thanks to his quick wit and jovial charm. He loved spending time with his family and friends, cheering on his favorite sports teams, especially the Montana State Bobcats, Denver Broncos and Boston Red Sox. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Al and Norma McLeod; his brothers, Jim McLeod and Robert McLeod; and sister, Karen Volkman. 

He is survived by his wife, Dawn McLeod; his children, Scott McLeod, Brett McLeod, Jewel Von Kempf and Beau McLeod; his grandchildren; Mitch McLeod, Amabel and Alister Von Kempf, Ryleigh, Bella, Olive, and Charlee McLeod; and brother, Gene McLeod.

Jack's legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched. He was a kind, compassionate, and inspiring man who will be dearly missed by all who knew him. 

A celebration of his life will be held in Kalispell. A separate celebration will be held in Shreveport, Louisiana. Dates to be announced. The family asks that any donations be made to the American Heart Association, www.heart.org.

Hold Fast 

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot