Gary Philip Leet

WINTHROP – Gary Philip Leet, 80, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 at Heritage Rehab and Living Center.

Gary, known as Uncle Phil to his many nieces and nephews, was born Nov. 30, 1939 in Richmond to Hazel and Roy Leet.

Gary began playing music as a young boy. He continued with his love of country music throughout his early adult years, eventually in 1973 forming his band “Elizabeth Country Drifters” (named as a tribute to his daughter Elizabeth who passed away at age 12). The band was quite popular, performing in venues throughout the state of Maine. After his wife’s passing in 1988, the band broke up, to be reformed in 2003 as “Gary Leet & The Country Drifters” and continuing until his death.

Gary was without doubt one of Maine’s most avid supporters of traditional country music. He was a lifetime member of Country Fest Maine, Maine Country Music Association, and the Down East Country Music Association, serving in many capacities through the years. He looked forward each year to traveling to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. to support his friends. Gary was also a lifetime member and longtime director of the Litchfield Sportsmen’s Club.

Gary worked a lot behind the scenes and didn’t get (or care to have) many accolades for his work. He was instrumental in having DECMA join NACMAI to allow Maine musicians the opportunity to compete at a national level; was one of the three founding members of Country Fest Maine in 2010; was an association representative to the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame; and one of Maine’s representatives to NACMAI. The jams he started the Pigeon Forge hotel during the national competitions are eagerly awaited by not only Maine performers, but hotel staff and local Tennessee musicians as well. This is evidenced by the number of local and out of state musicians who pop in for the jams.

Gary also wrote several songs and produced several cd’s which received favorable airplay in Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, and Colorado. He was often mistaken for Little Jimmy Dickens when in Tennessee, which he thought was a great honor.

Gary worked for many years in the Winthrop school system, eventually retiring from his custodial position. He was thrilled each time one of “his kids” recognized him after his retirement.

Gary loved and appreciated his family and friends, often saying he was a very lucky man. But it is his family and friends who were the lucky ones.

Gary was predeceased by his parents; wives, Pauline and Janet; daughters, Joan and Elizabeth; siblings, Earl, Roy (Wayne), Richard, Roger, Athlena Nelson, and Ruth Ridley; and his beloved dog, E.D.

Gary is survived by his very loved nieces and nephews, his “sweetie”, his adopted family, and his many friends.

A graveside service will be held in the spring in Winthrop, followed by a celebration of life at the Litchfield Sportsmen’s Club. Details will be announced later, but all his friends are invited to come on down and put a nickel in the jukebox.

Arrangements are in the care of Roberts Funeral Home, 62 Bowdoin St., Winthrop where condolences may be shared with the family on the obituary page of the website at www.familyfirstfuneralhomes.com