Deryl Kenneth Sleigh was born on August 31, 1925 in South Prairie, Washington to Joseph Henry and Ann Holyan Sleigh. He died on April 5, 2019 at the family cabin in Cumberland, Washington. He lived, by his account, an idyllic childhood surrounded by family and friends in South Prairie and neighboring communities of Wilkeson, Upper and Lower Burnett, Carbonado, and Buckley. He was an endless storyteller, captivating his children with stories of small town life and childhood friends. He loved country music, especially cowboy, railroad, and hobo songs, many of which he sang with his children as they rode in the 1949 Dodge Green Hornet, washed and dried the dishes, and raked the yard.
Deryl joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, serving as a radio navigator on a night squadron TBM Avenger airplane. Upon discharge, he graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Education. Later, he spent summers in Seattle, earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Washington. He was an educator for 35 years (grades 3-8). He started teaching in Carson, Washington; then spent six years in Black Diamond. The remainder of his career was in Enumclaw (including two years as vice principal at the old junior high school and 16 years as principal at Westwood Elementary). He was honored to be nominated as national Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Westwood PTA upon his retirement. He was a member of the Eagles, Elks, American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Above all, Deryl loved his family and his church. Upon marriage to Dorothy, he converted to Catholicism, attending Mass at both Sacred Heart and St. Barbara’s. He joins his parents, sister Betty Jo Cathey, and son-in-law Bill Wilson in heaven. He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Dorothy (Lokovsek); his children Staci Sleigh-Layman (Dan), Kelli Wilson, Mike Sleigh (Tessa), Whitney Sleigh Jorgenson (Clint), and Marti Berrett (Scott); his grandchildren Claire Layman (Brock Alderman), Andy Layman (Kaycee), Ellie Layman (Daniel Sears), Corissa Berrett (Ryan), Justis Berrett, Macie Berrett, Kai Berrett, Sara Wilson, and Martin Wilson; and his great-granddaughter Kennedy Layman.
Deryl also leaves behind a large crowd of other children (now middle aged or older) who he loved and who loved him in return. The best part of his day was spending time on the playground at Westwood School revelling in the games and laughter of childhood. When asked how old he was, he would always answer, “I’m 92!” He was always young at heart.
He thoroughly enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren compete in sports, rarely missing a game or match. His only ask on retirement was for a lifetime pass to attend Enumclaw sports events. The last time he used it was a couple of weeks ago watching the Enumclaw-White River Hornet rivalry at Osborne Field.
Deryl and Dorothy loved to dance! The Deryl & Dorothy Sleigh Dance for Life Fund has been established to support dancing in fifth grade classrooms. Please send donations to:
Deryl & Dorothy Sleigh Dance for Life Fund
Enumclaw Schools Foundation
C/O Enumclaw School District
2929 McDougall Avenue
Enumclaw, Washington 98022
Ram Dass, American academic and spiritual leader, wrote, “We’re all just walking each other home.” It takes a village to walk life’s miles. There are many who have held hands with Deryl/Dad/Grandpop/Mr. Sleigh and Grandma along the way. Thank you to everyone for your support and prayers.
Staff and nurses from Hospice have been stellar in their care. Dr. Luther Frerichs kept Deryl in good health during his last years. Chiropractor Dr. Gary Smith has been both friend and practitioner. Jan and Russ Crawford have been loving neighbors. Sister-in-law Mary Kell has graciously served as chauffer for sporting events and family gatherings.
Staff at Enumclaw and Black Diamond Senior Centers and the Buckley Eagles have provided memorable times. Of special delight for Deryl were the musicians who provided music for dancing at various venues. We are especially appreciative of those musicians who fulfilled his request to dance to Hank Williams’ Your Cheatin’ Heart.
Private burial will take place at Enumclaw Evergreen Memorial Park on Saturday. Messages and memories for Mr. Sleigh may be left on the tribute wall at weeksfuneralhomes.com.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Buckley Eagles, 29021 State Route 410 E, Buckley, Washington 98321, 1-5pm on Sunday, April 14, 2019. Come prepared to share stories, to laugh, to dance, and to celebrate a life well-lived.