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1928 Leland 2024

Leland Emet Bolt

August 30, 1928 — February 19, 2024

San Diego

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Leland Emet Bolt, Captain US Navy, retired, peacefully passed away on President’s Day, Monday February 19, 2024, concluding a meritorious earthly deployment of 95 years 6 months. 

Leland was born to Leland Eddy and Fern Leoline (Brubaker) Bolt on August 30, 1928 in Payette, Idaho but his family soon moved to Emmett, Idaho where he grew up.  To avoid the confusion of having the same first and last name as his father, and being genetically short-changed in physical size, he somehow inherited the nickname “Peewee” by which he was well known throughout the Emmett valley.  Nevertheless, in high-school Peewee became a guard on the varsity basketball team that won a state championship, and was also assigned (amazingly) the position of lineman on the Emmett Huskies football team.  These facts were early evidence that his capability, work ethic, and heart were vastly greater than his size, and these traits proved to be hallmarks throughout life's many endeavors.  In the small and wholesomely nurturing community of Emmett, Peewee developed lifelong friendships and anchoring values that steered his ship true throughout a long life with many adventures.


Aside from growing up during The Great Depression, World War II broke out when he was 11.  On a rare trip to Portland, Oregon he went aboard a US Navy cruiser.  Later, on Main Street in Emmett he saw a uniformed Navy Lieutenant Commander (LCDR). Those experiences motivated him toward Naval service and to seek an appointment to the US Naval Academy.  After high school and a short stay at a prep school for the Academy’s entrance exams, his father helped secure an appointment and he passed the entrance exams, entering the Academy in 1947.  There, he developed many deep lifelong friendships with others who shared the bonds of the daunting academy challenge and who similarly chose to serve and strengthen the fabric of our nation.

In the summer after his 3rd year at the academy he was “interning” aboard a ship that stopped in Newport, Rhode Island.  There he met the Torpedo Base Commander and the commander’s stunning sister-in-law, Jacqueline Joyce Barker (from Westville, Florida), who was employed as a clerk at the Naval War College in Newport.  Some guys have all the luck.  He graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1951 and he & Jackie were married in Emmett, Idaho on June 15, 1952.  After a night in the Idanha Hotel honeymoon suite (a generous wedding gift from the Emmett aunt and uncle of Idaho's present Governor, Brad Little), and a quick loop through Sun Valley, Warm Lake, and McCall, they left Boise reporting to his duty station in Hawaii.  There they honeymooned and then resided a short while when Jackie found employment. Imagine that...Hawaii in 1952 with the vivavious Mrs. Bolt. Some guys have all the luck.

After Hawaii, he was sent to San Diego to complete Amphibious Warfare School, then served aboard the USS Lenawee which led to driving landing craft in the Korean War.  Later assignments included propulsion officer for the the aircraft carrier Princeton, teaching at the gunnery school in San Diego, and Navigator & Operations Officer for the destroyer Uhlmann, all the while having the good fortune to remain based in San Diego for 8 years (although away on extended shipboard deployments many times, as is part of Navy life).  During these 8 years he and Jackie had 4 children: Leland Jr. born 1953, Jon in 1954, a daughter Carmen unable to survive after birth in 1957, and Stuart (Clay) born 1959.

He left active duty in 1959 as a Lieutenant but continued his Navy service in the reserves, and that year also gained employment in San Diego with aerospace & defense contractor General Dynamics (defense contractors love hiring academy graduates).  His first assignment was in the Atlas missile program which was the first operational US intercontinental ballistic missile, and also a launch vehicle for Mercury capsules used in the early steps of the expansive program and national priority to put a man on the moon by 1970 (which beat President Kennedy's goal by happening in late 1969).  During these years, the Navy recalled him twice to active duty on ships supporting US efforts in the Berlin Crisis and the Viet Nam War, and at one point he commanded the Destroyer Escort USS Wiseman DE-667.

His 33 year career at General Dynamics involved many more defense projects including a significant role, for which he was perhaps most proud, in the long program to develop and deploy the world’s first cruise missile… which was an enormous success and technological advance. Notably, he also had a significant role in the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System that was in the news recently, protecting the USS Gravely in the Red Sea from an enemy missile that penetrated all other defensive weapons and was seconds from striking the ship. Throughout these years Lee dutifully continued his Naval service in the reserves, at one point earning a Navy Meritorious Service commendation and medal for commanding a Naval Reserve unit that won a service-wide performance competition.  He advanced in rank to Captain before retiring from Naval service Aug 31, 1988.

During these years, he and Jackie, and their nurturing, work ethic, and teamwork influenced his children to become: a veterinarian, an electronics engineer, and a pharmacist.

In retirement Lee and Jackie enjoyed travel and their magnetic personalities made friends and fun wherever they went.  But they especially enjoyed activities with lifelong friends from neighborhoods and the Navy. From President’s Day celebrations at the San Diego Yacht Club with USNA 1951 classmates, to wherever they travelled, a highlight for them was reconnecting and refueling the shared joy of those longstanding bonds.  His sons were always particularly impressed with the special quality of the enduring bonds with his Naval Academy classmates, alumni, and shipmates. Something was very special and unique there.

Lee’s father performed and managed bookkeeping for his substantial businesses in Emmett, and early in retirement Lee was motivated to have his father teach him bookkeeping.  He absorbed this skill like a sponge and then applied it extensively when his son’s successful veterinary practice in North Carolina needed help.  He became the de facto CFO for the business, and despite a lack of stock-options or other compensation, he genuinely enjoyed the daily work and seeing, from the bottom up, the success of his son’s business and the role he was playing to advance that outcome.  He was happy being a navigator again.

Later in retirement he turned his attention to genealogy, becoming his family’s historian and consultant, and then wrote a book about that history.  This legacy preserved the records, stories and pictures for all future generations.  A second book was written about his wife and our immediate family.  And at the time of passing he was writing a third book with stories from his many careers.  The man always needed a worthwhile project, and the many he undertook displayed his work ethic and drive to continually find worthwhile things to do.  These works left an expansive legacy for future generations.

Leland is survived by his sons Leland Jr (wife Nell Bostwick) of North Carolina; Jon (wife Cherie Mabe) of Boise, ID; and Clay of San Diego;  3 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  His passing was preceded by his wife Jackie on March 29, 2021. Services will be held in San Diego on Monday February 26 and at his resting place with the love of his life, near Westville, Florida on March 4, 2024.

The family suggests memorials be directed to:
The Glenner Center, San Diego, Calif
Shriner Hospitals for Children 
Mt Soledad Veterans Memorial Assn, San Diego 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Leland Emet Bolt, please visit our flower store.

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