JACKSONVILLE — Former councilman and real estate developer Bill Leep died in Portland Tuesday following a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was 57 and had resided in the Rogue Valley for 30 years.
Leep served on the Jacksonville City Council for nearly 10 years and did not seek re-election in 2008. He was on the Planning Commission for 12 years. He was also involved in Regional Problem Solving, an effort to coordinate growth over the next five decades by six cities and Jackson County.
The former councilman was co-owner of Keller Williams Realty Southern Oregon.
With partner Daniel Charbonneau, Leep undertook development of the Paradise Ranch resort and golf course in Grants Pass in 2002. That development is seeking reorganization through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
"Bill was a local boy and planning and land-use expert," said Charbonneau. "He knew about real estate and had great expertise in land development. He made common sense."
But Leep was a friend before anything else, said Charbonneau.
"He was fun to be around, he was cultivated," said Charbonneau. "We had a good time together."
Leep served as Jacksonville's representative to the RPS process, said former Mayor Bruce Garrett, who was a councilman during Leep's tenure.
"He was a wonderful resource for those kind of activities," said Garrett. "He came to the council with ideas of what he wanted to do and had supporting documentation to validate (it). He usually had a good reason as to why he was taking a certain course of action."
Councilwoman Donna Schatz said Leep contributed much to the council during his terms.
"He was very knowledgeable as far as real estate was concerned," said Schatz. "(He was) very bright and had a good background to serve on the City Council."
In 2008, a derringer pistol that Leep kept in a bicycle bag discharged and wounded state Sen. Jason Atkinson in the leg. Leep had left the bike with Atkinson for repairs, and the accident occurred when the senator dropped the bag on the floor.
Leep was surrounded by family members when he died Tuesday evening at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, said his sister, Meri Hayworth, of Golden, Colo. He had been hospitalized since May.
The former councilman had a stem cell transplant in January, said Hayworth. Although his most recent Rogue Valley residence was in Grants Pass, he spent much of the last two years in Lake Oswego to be near medical services, she said.
Leep was born in Portland on June 20, 1955. In addition to his sister, he is survived by his mother, Evelyn Vohs of Jacksonville, a brother, John, who lives in Oregon, and two sons, Austin of Eugene and Harrison of Medford.
Family members will have a private interment at Riverview Abbey Mausoleum in Portland on Sunday. A gathering of friends will be held in Lake Oswego Sept. 2. For details, contact Hayworth at 303-278-2789 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions in Leep's name can be made to a charity of the donor's choice or to the Bill Leep Fund to cover past medical expenses. The latter should be sent to Hayworth at 14377 W. Bayaud Ave., Golden, CO 80401.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.