Leland (Lee) Merritt Stone, 89, beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend to many, was welcomed into eternal life on Wednesday, February 03, 2021. He entered this world on Wednesday, April 8, 1931, born in Kilbourne, Illinois to John Stone and Bernice Hall Stone. Lee was the second born of four children, a brother to two brothers, and a younger sister.
During his childhood, Lee grew up on a farm. He graduated from Easton High School in June 1950. At the age of 19, on August 22nd, 1950, Lee enlisted in the United States Navy. In January of 1951 until May of 1951, Lee attended Class “A” Photographer’s Mate School. Upon completion of photography school, Lee flew alongside pilots in Navy Planes and performed aerial naval photography.
While stationed in the Navy he met and married Juliet (Julie) Fiorilli on February 20th, 1954 in Norfolk, Virginia. Lee was honorably discharged from the Navy on June 22nd, 1954. Lee and Julie lived in Peoria, Illinois for 1 year. In 1955 they moved to Chicago, Illinois for 2 years, so Lee could attend school for his Electronics Degree. Upon graduation in June 1957, Lee was hired by Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lee and Julie moved to Albuquerque in July 1957.
Lee and Julie adopted the first of two children three years after their move to Albuquerque. They welcomed a daughter, Desiree – in December 1960 and approximately two years later a son, Kevin - in April 1963. Lee and Julie later divorced in August 1967.
Lee then married Betty Hulebak in 1969. He was a step-father to Betty’s three children - Mark, Phillip, and Susan. Lee and Betty divorced in 1992.
Lee’s position as an Electronic Technician with Sandia Laboratories often took him to the island of Kauai, Hawaii. There he tested rockets at the Kauai Test Site at Barking Sands Missile Range. While on the island he met Jane May. They then married in an outdoor wedding on January 1, 1995 on the island of Kauai. Jane had two young adult children, Michael and Karen.
Lee so enjoyed his job with Sandia Laboratories. He was an electronic technician designing and wiring rocket payloads. Specifically, at the Kauai Test Facility (KTF), Lee was the Assistant Range Manager, as well as responsible for on-site electronic work. He was the last person to hit the button manually to launch a rocket before computers took over. Lee enjoyed 38 years of a fulfilling career, with Sandia Laboratories and retired in March of 1995. He and Jane continued to live on Kauai after his retirement. In July of 2012, Lee and Jane relocated to live permanently in their condo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Before retirement and after - Lee enjoyed: playing Black Jack; participating in chase crews for Hot Air Balloons, as well as flying in them when the opportunity arose; beaches on Kauai, took loving care of 20 banana trees and a large avocado tree in the Kauai yard; Sudoku; traveling/cruises; visiting family and friends; and maintaining the cars of family and friends.
Lee was preceded in death by his father John, mother Bernice, brother Delbert (Rocky), sister Bonnie, and son Kevin.
Lee is survived by his wife of 26 years, Jane Stone; daughter, Desiree Stone; brother, Clyde Stone (Geri); daughter-in-law Diana, (wife of deceased son Kevin); step-children, Phillip (Leslie) Hulebak; Susan (Phil) Black; Mark Hulebak; Michael (Salang) May; and Karen (Charles) Remitio. He is survived by 19 grandchildren, and multiple great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Lee chose to be cremated, and because he is a Veteran, he will be laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is hoped by late spring or early summer that COVID restrictions will be lessened to allow for more family and friends to be in attendance. Internment and final rest will be announced at a future date.