Kenneth F. LeBay, who at age 17 enlisted in the Marines and fought in three campaigns in the South Pacific during World War II, died Saturday at Sunset Village in Sylvania Township.
Mr. LeBay, 90, formerly of Toledo, died of kidney failure, said his son, Douglas.
Mr. LeBay was two months into his junior year at Whitmer High School when he joined the 8th Battalion U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, his son said.
“I got the impression he didn't like high school,” his son said.
Mr. LeBay enlisted in October, 1940, and was sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for training in map and aerial photography reading, reconnaissance, and mapping. While in Cuba, he rescued a drowning Marine and was awarded a Red Cross ribbon.
Mr. LeBay was part of the 1st Marine Brigade, which was the first to move to the South Pacific after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was promoted to sergeant while in British Samoa in June, 1942, around the time he would have graduated from Whitmer.
In a 2004 interview, Mr. LeBay said he returned to Whitmer after the war to claim the diploma he’d missed .
“I was told, ‘Sorry, you have to have your civics and sociology classes,’” he said.
Mr. LeBay was finally presented his diploma in 2002.
He was wounded in the neck and leg while on Guadalcanal. In New Guinea, he was credited for leading an Australian reporter, Noel Ottaway, on a two-day journey to safety.
Mr. LeBay was awarded a Purple Heart, two presidential citations, and an American Defense ribbon.
He attended the University of Toledo, where he studied engineering, his son said.
He built homes, owned a real estate company, and later went to work for William Ferrell Co., becoming an executive vice president. He worked for Great Lakes Industrial Contracting, retiring as its safety engineer.
He was a 65-year member of Damascus-Collingwood Masonic Lodge 643, where he served as master. He was a trustee for the Browning Masonic home in Waterville and was involved in its construction, his son said.
He was born on Sept. 2, 1923, in Tiffin to Kenneth O. and Helen LeBay.
He married the former Myrtle Marie Young in 1945, and she died around 1968, Douglas LeBay said. He married Thomasina Kohn and she died in April, 2013.
Mr. LeBay is survived by his brother, Louis; sister Ruth Orend; son Douglas LeBay; daughter Eugenia Wiles; stepsons James and Kenneth Kohn; 27 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Walker Funeral Home, where Masonic, Scottish Rite, and Zenobia Legion of Honor services will begin at 7 p.m.
His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home. Memorials are suggested to Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio.
Contact Jim Sielicki at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.
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