Leland Rossi

Leland Gaylord "Lee" Rossi

Sunday, May 30th, 1943 - Sunday, June 7th, 2020
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Leland (Lee) Gaylord Rossi met his maker on June 7, 2020 in his own time and way, late as usual, at his home in Oak Harbor, Washington. He never expected to reach 77 years old. Lee was definitely a man who went by island time. He lived on four different islands in his lifetime; Coronado Island in California, Center Island, Point Roberts (isolated from the main part of Washington state),and Whidbey Island all in Washington state. So operating on island time was natural for Lee.

God’s got himself a handful with this child of his. Lee’s only found another place to open a shop and get to work on his newest project.

Lee was preceded in death by his parents and aunt and uncles; and beloved dogs: Bear, Behr, Maggie, Barnum, Denali, and Bailey, all were big hairy dogs which he loved. He is survived by his wife of nearly 35 years: RosaKiana; his sons: Christopher, and Jeffrey (Sammi); his grandchildren: Avery, Tristan, and Darien; Makala and Natalia; and Max; his sister: Diana (Kirk) and nephews, nieces, and cousins.

Even Lee’s middle name, Gaylord, pointed to the fact that he would be a great humorist. He was a humor-on-demand type. He’d come up with something so hilarious your sides would be aching afterwards and you’d be laughing so hard you’d wet your pants. You made sure you didn’t have a full bladder around him. Sometimes we laughed so hard we’d be crying. He’d definitely laughed at his own jokes and frequently made jokes about himself especially about the new deformities in both of his feet because of having Rheumatoid Arthritis and having a toe on each foot removed. He called RA the Greek bastard just like its cousin laryngitis. The most spontaneous times would be during the worst days of his life. He made light of any situation to relieve the stress of it.

Lee was what you’d call a factotum, a skilled worker of all kinds. In his lifetime he obtained a B.S. in Fisheries Biology and a certificate for teaching, was a commercial salmon fisherman, a Coast Guard Reservist, a boat builder, a grade school teacher for Pinecrest Schools, a sign maker, a salesman extraordinaire—interested in funding the bridge from Whidbey to Camano Island he’d sell it to you, a home renovator (with the help of his designer wife) long before Flip or Flop was on TV, and a cabinet renovator.

If Lee hadn’t decided to continue his sign business in Oak Harbor, Washington most businesses would have never known that pot was really a tiny clay pot he offered them for free when they ordered their sign.

Most of all they wouldn’t have known what a quality sign looked like. Lee excelled in providing customers with over-the-top sign design and the best materials possible. He originally got his start in the sign business as a teen and then later in Humboldt County, California when he opened first sign shop. When he first restarted his sign business again on Whidbey Island with his son Jeffrey, Lee noticed shoddy and inadequate materials that current and former sign companies had used. For instance since he knew about how the salt air corroded metal he used only stainless steel screws. What Lee noted on numerous signs were ordinary nails used again and again. He set out to show businesses quality sign work which he learned from his first start in the business. Service was one of his hallmarks, going to the customer at their place of business. It was old school yet it worked much better because then Lee could see the business firsthand and understand what was needed to for them.

He was generous with his sign making talents; frequently giving charities, churches, food banks, and thrift stores (that helped animals especially) reduced cost or free signs.

When Lee semi-retired from the sign business in 2017, his expertise spanned nearly 58 years. Of course he loved doing signs so he couldn’t fully retire as his son would’ve hoped he would.

Lee was a patriot, inspiring his family to always be respectful of the American flag. He secured a flag holder on his Suburban and always had an American flag attached to it every flag day and every 4th of July. An American flag was also on the mailbox at the end of our street. If he saw a flag looking ratty, he’d purchase one and replace it. He provided a new one every year for our neighbor at no cost just because he hated seeing the American flag being disrespected. It didn’t matter what size it was, and that one was a tiny flag on the neighbor’s address sign. Once for Christmas he gave another neighbor a new American flag to replace the torn, raggedy flag they had flown for years. This was a huge flag.

The funniest moment in his life came when the fourth Leonberger his wife and him had, Denali, a rescue suddenly passed away. She was nearly nine years old which is old for a Leo. Lee called Wallin Funeral Home and told them that she died in his office on the floor and he’d just drag her out to the car, place her in the back of the Suburban, and then drive her over there himself.

Lee couldn’t understand why the person on the phone was insisting they could be right there to pick up her up. That is until he asked if he had called the right place. He had called the human one not the pet funeral home Then Lee laughed so hard he was crying. He joked about his embarrassing moment for the next several years.

A private memorial for family and a couple of close friends was held on June 19, 2020 at 1400 at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville. A celebration of life will be held in Oak Harbor. To be announced.
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Service Details

  • Service

    A Celebration of Life
    A Celebration of Life will be held in Oak Harbor at a date to be announced.
  • Interment

    Friday, June 19th, 2020 |
    Friday, June 19th, 2020
    Sunnyside Cemetery
    Cemetery Road
    COUPEVILLE, WA 98239
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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