Leo John Brueggeman passed away in King City on January 18, with his family at his side. Born in 1926 in Pierre, S.D., Leo was the youngest child of Andrew and Verona (Struif) Brueggeman. His childhood was spent in South Dakota, and at age 8, his father moved them to Arizona, to ease Leo’s mother’s tuberculosis. In Arizona, his father Andrew owned several trucks, which he leased to the Work Project Administration, and at age of 13, Leo started driving to help his father’s business. Leo developed his love of trucks and cars and their mechanics, while working alongside his father. His favorite cars were a 1930 Ford Model A that he co-owned with two of his sons, and a 1967 Jaguar XKE which he lovingly restored.
At 18, Leo enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving from 1944 to 1946, preparing for the invasion of Japan on his assigned LST vessel. Honorably discharged as a Radarman Third Class, Leo returned to Arizona, maintaining his “secret” clearance for another 14 years.
After his military service, Leo attended Arizona State College at Tempe for two years, before transferring to the University of Arizona, Tucson, where he graduated with distinction in 1950, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. He was a proud life member of Tau Beta Pi Society.
Leo’s professional career started in 1950 with the US Gypsum Company in Midland, Calif., where he was a production foreman. Sixteen months later, Leo moved to Giannini Controls in Pasadena as a project engineer, starting a long career working with pressure transducers. There, he developed 37 new products and received the first of three patents. Moving north, Leo worked at Aerojet General in Folsom, working on the Polaris A-3 Missile propulsion system, designing its rotatable nozzle. He designed prototypes, supervised test firings, and designed special fabrication techniques for the nozzle. After the successful Polaris project, Leo returned to Southern California and worked for other companies in pressure transducer work for the next 25 years. One notable position was the fabrication, testing, and assembly of “Safe Arm” devices for missile (and U-2 spy plane destruction) applications.
In the mid 1980s, Leo took his pressure transducer experience into the fields of critical care and medical equipment. Leo had two more patents issued for his designs, including a patent for a medical dual stop cock system that measured fluid pressure. He also refined the design of a disposable single-use blood pressure monitor for heart surgery.
In 1948, Leo met the love of his life, Alice Adeline Kasold. He and Alice met while they were college students and were married on October 23, 1948 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Tempe. For 64 years, Leo was Alice’s loving and devoted husband. Leo and Alice welcomed their first children, twin brothers Michael and Steven, in 1950, followed by Peter in 1952 and John in 1954. Leo was a wonderful father, remembered by his sons for family camping trips, his encouragement and support, as well as his ability to fix just about anything — skills which he passed on to his sons in various degrees. He encouraged all of his children to pursue higher education and supported them in this.
After retirement, Leo and Alice moved to Brookings, Ore. in August 1991, into a self-designed home. Leo stayed busy with his life-long passion for gardening, growing an abundance of vegetables and fruit. His large blueberry patch was his special pride, and he shared the canned results with family and friends every Christmas. Leo and Alice became bakers each Christmas, preparing a delicious home-baked array of cookies and breads, including springerles, reflecting their German heritage. Leo’s talent for woodworking was shared with Star of the Sea Catholic Church, where he also served as a Minister of the Eucharist and a member of the church’s finance committee. Leo used his mechanical talents as a volunteer and tank truck driver with the Cape Ferrelo Fire Department. He was a member of the Pelican Bay Art Association and a supporter of the Chetco Pelican Players and the Friends of Music.
In between the gardening and volunteer work in the community, Leo and Alice indulged a love of travel. Over the years they traveled to Alaska, Mexico, Costa Rica, Australasia, and Europe. After each trip, Leo developed extensive picture travelogues, which he frequently shared to the consternation of his family. Leo was also an avid traveler closer to home; he and Alice spent many happy days trailer camping in the forests and mountains of California and Oregon.
In July 2010, Leo and Alice moved to Pine Canyon, King City, to be closer to family. With the help of sons and daughters-in-law, a caravan of trucks and trailers moved them to their new home. They became members of the Silver Kings and Queens and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
Leo is preceded in death by his brother, Victor, and sister, Agnes (Lyons/Velut). Leo is survived by his wife, Alice, and sons Michael (Nancy Grimes) Brueggeman of Mountain View, Stephen (Janice) Brueggeman of Mission Viejo, Peter (Kathryn Creely) Brueggeman of La Jolla, and John (Diane) Brueggeman of Greenfield, as well as six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
At his request, no services will be held. For those interested in making a memorial gift, in lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Leo’s name to the Mee Memorial Hospital Foundation, 300 Canal Street, King City, CA 93930. A Celebration of Life will be held for Leo, at the family home, on February 17, 2013.