In the words of the old Hank Williams Jr song,
“Because you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run
‘Cause we’re them old boys raised on shotguns…
We can skin a buck, and run a trotline
And a country boy can survive.”
Bobby Gene Ledford age 73 was born December 14th, 1947 in Forrest City, Arkansas and went to the arms of his savior on January 13th, 2021 surrounded by loved ones after a hard fought battle against COVID-19. He was not and never will be a statistic. He was a warrior, a husband, a father, a Papa, and a darn good barber.
He loved red wine, steak and potatoes, and chocolate on chocolate birthday cake. He didn’t have time for anybody running late but he would usually give you at least one pass. He was a military man after all.
As a child he wanted to be a chef.
He made that dream a reality by eagerly hosting many fish fries, cooking the grandkids country breakfast with pancakes and home made chocolate syrup, and making big birthday lunches for his mighty extended family.
He had an uncanny ability to make a best friend in less than 30 seconds and hold everyone’s attention in the room while he told the best stories.
Bobby Gene was the second of four sons born to Thelma and Clifford Ledford.
At a young age the boys learned the essence of hard work watching their mother and father make ends meet primarily in the mechanic industry following Cliff’s service in WWII.
Bobby often shared a story that involved he and his eldest brother settling a fight. His father would take them outside and draw a line in the dirt. Then he would have them toe the line, a boxing match would ensue. Last to come off the line settled the argument in their favor. Allen Ledford claims Bobby almost whooped him once….
Bobby would grow to be a blue-collar man through and through. Honest, reliable, and hard working.
After moving around quite a bit, his family settled in north Louisiana where he attended Choudrant High School. It was there he met his high school sweetheart and love of his life Laurice Brewster. They were married on her 20th birthday, March 1st, 1969 at Alabama Presbyterian Church where he would remain a faithful and devoted member until his death.
After high school, he attended barber school in Shreveport and had his first job at Patterson’s Barber Shop. In that time, He proudly served in the US Navy on the USS Galveston in the Vietnam War. That patriotism would live in him the rest of his life. He always honored the flag and loved his country deeply.
The love of water found in the Navy would continue to be a strong part of his life as well eventually teaching his daughters to be champion swimmers and learning the local waterways like the back of his hand.
After the war, he returned to Patterson’s and then opened his very own business shortly afterward. Ledford’s Hair Care would become a Ruston staple opening in 1978 and serving the community for over 40 years. He worked side by side with his sister-in-law Karen Williams sharing life, giving babies first haircuts, and fishing tips if he liked you.
He and Laurice have two beloved daughters, Tonya and Linzie were the pride of his life. He would brag unashamedly about them for all who would care to listen. When the grandkids came along, it got ten times worse. He was proud of his two son-in-laws as well and vowed to love them forever like his own “as long as they took care of his girls.”
He had a passion for all things outdoors tinkering in a variety of hobbies over the years. He went head first in golf spending many days cursing his clubs at The Ruston Country Club before starting the D’arbonne Archery club and serving as its first president. By the time the girls were old enough, he fixed up an old ski boat to waterski and camp the Quachita River with his family. Memories they would come to cherish for a lifetime.
He would even become “cowboy Bob” in the families “horse phase” learning the ins and outs of horsemanship, barrel racing, and trail riding.
He always had a unique gift of figuring things out and going all in!
And by all in, I mean both literally and figuratively as he once accidentally sunk his ole blue truck in Gill’s fairy landing on a fishing adventure with his wife. The truck rolled back so far in the water our poor Nana had to swim out to shore. She has never liked the cold or putting her head in the water but forgave him eventually.
In addition to serving his church home as a choir member, a deacon, and eventually an elder, Papa spent much of his time extra working in his yard. He especially loved his garden. His smile could brighten any room and his jokes make you belly laugh for hours.
The man could outwork a mule. Once, in Oregon celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, he and Nana defeated the entire family in a canoe race. In this competitive family, you know we all gave an honest effort! However, it would be the “old folks” with their years of synchronization and teamwork that would end victorious for the day. Nana reports Papa tried to give up in the end by putting his paddle in the boat and saying he was tired. But being the wife she has always been, told him he better get that paddle back in the water and finish it! So, he did.
Our Papa lived life on purpose. He was present and intentional. He always showed up for the people he held dear. For his precious grandchildren he would walk to the end of the earth and back. He spent time teaching them to shoot, hunt, fish, build, and plant a garden. He invested his time both in quality and quantity. He had no regrets and made the most of every day he had with them. He would encourage you to do the same and do it BIG!
Papa will forever be cherished, adored, and honored by his loving family.
He is preceded in death by his father Clifford Coleman and mother Thelma King Ledford as well as His father in law O.L. Brewster.
He will be celebrated in this life by his beautiful and faithful wife of nearly 52 years, Laurice Ledford. His daughter who is just like him, Tonya Ledford McCulloch and her husband Eric along with their four children; Rileigh, Raegan, Luke, and Levi. Linzie Ledford Hebert who shares in his story telling and 30 second friendship development skills, her husband Jeremy along with their children Hallie, Owen, Abram, and Amélie. His ninth grand baby, Bobby Jeremiah will be here near the end of June! Only God could ordain such a plan.
He is also survived by his brothers and their wives; Allen and Wanda Ledford of Choudrant, La, Larry and Suzanne Ledford of Winston Salem, North Carolina, Danny and Louise Ledford of San Ramon, California.
His sister and brother- in-laws; Charlotte and Terry Williams Of Choudrant, Buster and Chris Brewster of Choudrant, and Karen and Kenneth Williams of Choudrant.
He is a beloved uncle and great uncle to so many including those who were like his own, Kyle and Jill Williams of Choudrant and Kadie and Pate Claborn of Choudrant as well as their children.
The entire Brewster clan including his mother- in-law Maude Brewster of Choudrant will carry on his memory as will his many dear friends and loyal customers he has made through the years. We wish we could list every single one of you.
We will share in Papa’s memory Saturday, January 16th in a visitation at Kilpatrick Funeral Home from 5-7 pm. A celebration of his life will be held at The Bridge Community Church on Sunday, January 17th at 2:00pm. A graveside service for family and Alabama Presbyterian Church friends will follow at 3:30pm. We ask that you wear your mask covering your nose and mouth and follow COVID-19 protocols in place as that is what he always did to love others well.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking you donate to the Children’s playground at Alabama Presbyterian Church in his memory or Navy-Marine Corp relief society for military personnel and their families.