Thursday, January 27, 2022

LeRoy William ‘Lee’ Fehrenkamp, 81, frequently seen sculling down the James River

Leroy William 'Lee' Fehrenkamp
LeRoy William ‘Lee’ Fehrenkamp

WILLIAMSBURG — LeRoy William “Lee” Fehrenkamp passed away peacefully Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, at his home in Williamsburg, surrounded by loved ones.

He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Brigitte (Rau) Fehrenkamp; daughters, Ariane, and her partner, Renu Cappelli, and Kirsten and her spouse, Craig Lauinger. He was the devoted grandfather to Ronan and Bodie Lauinger; the older brother of Carol Checkley; and uncle to Connie (Checkley) Mulligan and Andrew Checkley. He was born Feb. 17, 1939, to Myrtle and William Fehrenkamp in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Anyone who met Lee would have shared a laugh with him and felt the comfort of his good humor, his wide grin and kind energy. He was a lifelong athlete. While growing up in Chicago, he played 16-inch softball — a traditional sport in the Windy City. He also played baseball at Lane Tech Boys High School in Chicago and Division 1 NCAA Baseball at Valparaiso University. He loved to ski, was a fierce racquetball player, excelled on the dance floor and was an avid golfer. (He had so many golf trophies!) After he retired, he took up rowing as a new hobby and was frequently seen in the early morning hours sculling down the James River. He was also his daughter’s soccer coach and the loudest among the cheering parents at countless swim meets, track meets, volleyball and basketball games. He even cheered for his eldest daughter when she was in first grade and she went on a fast, full-court drive toward the basket, scoring a flawless layup for the opposing team.

Lee went to college at Valparaiso University and completed his master’s degree at Southern Illinois University, where he began his career working for the SIU Arena. From there, he took a position as the deputy director of the Indianapolis Convention Center. During his tenure in Indiana, he oversaw the design, construction, opening and operations of the Hoosier Dome. After 14-years in Indiana, Lee and his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he served as the general manager of Portland’s Exposition-Recreation Commission. There, he had in his charge a portfolio of seven public theaters, event venues and sporting arenas, and he oversaw the design, construction and operations of the 1-million-square-foot Oregon Convention Center. After Portland, Lee and Brigitte relocated to Southeast Asia, where he oversaw the construction, managed and hired an international staff for the Suntec Singapore Convention Center and the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center. Upon his return to the United States, Lee took a position as the deputy general manager of the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., and oversaw the design, construction and operations of the 2.3-million-square-foot building. He belonged to several professional organizations throughout his career, which gave him the opportunity to travel to all corners of the world, but what he loved most about his work was bringing people together — whether for sporting events, live music and theater, professional trade shows, conferences or inaugural balls.

After retirement, he and Brigitte moved to Williamsburg, where he studied to become a master gardener and joined the master’s rowing team at the Williamsburg Boat Club. We take comfort in our memories of our wonderful and beloved dad, husband, brother, coach and friend. He loved Chicago-style pizza, live music, ice cream, learning new skills, and, most of all, sharing a laugh with family, friends and strangers.

The family is planning a memorial service to be held in Williamsburg at a later date.

Share online condolences with the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.

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