|Stew Schrauger, Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce/Courtesy photo|
Ed Lepordo accepts a Chamber Volunteer Award Friday night from Prescott Valley Chamber outgoing Board President Irene Evans. Lepordo was instrumental for many years in running the Chamberís annual fundraiser golf tournament. He died Sunday while golfing.
Longtime Prescott Valley supporter Ed Lepordo passed away Sunday doing what he loved - playing golf.
Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce Board president from 1996 through 1997 after two years as vice president, Lepordo was an owner of McWhite's North American Van Lines and the Arizona Sundogs professional hockey team. He was 60. Donna. his wife of nearly 24 years, survives him.
"It's a sad day for Prescott Valley," former Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce director Lew Rees said. "Eddie was a great, great friend, great leader and all-around good guy."
Rees said after Lepordo hired him, one of his first directives was to raise $50,000 to build the Prescott Valley Pavilion at Mountain Valley Park. But Lepordo, as part of the "Action Chamber," a business owner and a private citizen, helped spark a tremendous increase in Chamber membership and was instrumental in many innovative town and community bonding projects. Some of those included: the SlugFest softball tourney between Chamber, Town and Humboldt School District staff teams; and several annual events, such as the Chamber's Pronghorn Golf Tournament; Burning Desire to Feed the Hungry holiday food drive; Team Up to Clean Up; Christmas Festival of Lights; Prescott Valley Days; a successful Trade Show.
In a Tribune article by Heidi Dahms (now Foster) dated July 23, 1997, Lepordo said, "We took on the policy when we hired the new director (Rees) last year that we would just say yes - to the community, to the Town, to the schools and civic clubs. We want to assist and partner with anyone who needs help."
"He always was doing what it takes to build a community. He made a huge difference with his philosophies and here we sit with a beautiful town," Rees said.
Marnie Uhl, current Chamber president/CEO said Lepordo was "instrumental in leading the chamber in a new positive direction."
Chamber executive assistant Bev Oleson said her husband, Doug, met Lepordo at a networking meeting 21 years ago when both couples were new to Prescott Valley, and the men golfed together twice weekly since.
"They just hit it off," Bev Oleson said. "We had a lot of fun and laughs together."
Lepordo became a Sundogs owner with Mile High Hockey, LLC, in September 2010, and also served as interim president from January through July 2011.
In a press release from the organization, Sundogs majority owner Brad Fain said, "This is truly a loss for the organization and the community. His passing comes as a shock to all of us and we are still trying to come to grips with the loss. Our hearts and prayers are with his wife, Donna, and their family. Ed will be greatly missed throughout the organization; I will personally miss his support, leadership and friendship in our efforts to rebuild the team and the organization. He was truly a one-of-a-kind friend and will be greatly missed."
For the past seven years, Lepordo also has sponsored Toys for Kids, allowing 40 children to tour the arena, meet the Sundogs, and receive team merchandise along with a teddy bear for the girls and a McWhite's replica moving truck for the boys. With his bushy salt-and-pepper beard, Lepordo resembled a younger version of Santa Claus and was just as jolly as he watched the children from the sidelines.
Donna Lepordo called her beloved husband "a big teddy bear."
"He was a natural to helping people," Donna said, including herself because Ed was taking care of everything since her foot surgery a week ago. "Someone once asked how a gentle, soft-spoken gal like me ended up with a boisterous guy like Ed. He was my soul mate. We loved each other more than life, and shared the exact same values - that's all you need."
She said after Ed's quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago, she would spend days at the Phoenix hospital and drive home to the Prescott Country Club each night.
"The nurses said, 'You must be newlyweds,' and when I told them we'd been married 20 years, they said they'd start treating their husbands better," Donna said.
She also said they were looking forward to their 25th anniversary and his retirement from McWhite's so they could travel.
She said Ed loved their two Yorkies, Kadie and Holly, and, referring to Donna's British ancestry, told her, "As an Italian man, I never thought I'd end up with three English broads."
Born in Boston, Mass., Lepordo eared a business degree from California State University at Fullerton. He rode rodeos in Europe and North America and was slated for induction into the European Rodeo Association's Hall of Fame later this year.
"I miss him so much," Donna said.