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Leonard Leroy Orchard

Leonard Leroy “Bucky” Orchard passed away on December 17, 2023, surrounded by family at his home in Eminence, Missouri. He was preceded in death by his mother, Marjory; father, Charles “Judge”; sister, Mary Francis Craig; and furry companion, Bruce. Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Susan; daughter, Kim (Shane) Van Steenis; and son, Steve Orchard; along with grandchildren, Brian (Tess) Miley, Aaron Miley, Gary Orchard, and Taylor Van Steenis; great-grandsons, Maddox Miley and Anson Orchard; sister, Jane (Jim) Smith; and a host of brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews.

Leroy was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on February 10, 1943, while his parents were working in the city towards the World War II effort. His father, Judge, was drafted and served in the Philippines but returned home to the family in Eminence at the war’s end. Growing up in Eminence, Leroy was a fixture in the family-owned businesses, Bale’s Mercantile and Bale’s Boating Company, along with the community, having spent lots of time in town, at the baseball field, and at the river. He graduated from Eminence High School in 1961 and shortly thereafter married his beloved “Susie” on September 2, 1961.

Upon graduation and marriage, they briefly moved to St. Louis, where Leroy worked at a baby carriage factory and made many friends before moving back to Eminence. Back home, Leroy ran a bowling alley and helped with the family businesses before taking over Bale’s Mercantile in 1979. They started their family with the birth of a daughter, Kim, in 1962, followed by a son, Steve, in 1965. His signature look was a classy business dress style, and he would frequently be seen driving around in his black 1953 Packard car on family outings. In the early 90s, the couple converted the grocery store into their dream business, the Ozark Orchard Restaurant, where Leroy could be found bartending and practicing his gift of storytelling. In 2008, the pair retired to Leroy’s grandfather’s house in town where they could relax, play Scrabble, and he could supervise Susan on her daily projects.

Whether he was telling about the bush in St. Louis or when Susie showed up at the historical marker, or the time they “borrowed” their friend’s car, Leroy was best known for his stories that entertained the masses while proving to be true. He also found enjoyment in spending time with Susie on the river, keeping up with the St. Louis Cardinals, listening to classic tracks from the 1940s, and taking it easy on the couch while watching Turner classic movies. He was very knowledgeable in baseball statistics and geography, where he listed the U.S. States with their capitals and counties along with United Kingdom counties for fun. Leroy was known to be partial to an occasional Sicilian steak, an icy cold beverage, and an unfiltered camel. With his many interests and skills, Leroy was able to live his life to the fullest while loving those he cared about deeply.

Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at St. Sylvester Catholic Church, Eminence, Missouri, with Father Joseph Stoverink officiating. Visitation will be held from 6-8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2023, at Yarber Mortuary, Eminence. Interment will be in Munsell Cemetery, Eminence. Condolences may be expressed at