Sally Ann Shurmur: His Spirit And His Laugh Will Never Die

Sally Ann Shurmur writes, "He has been my family, my friend, my rock in stormy seas, for 50 years. On Monday, he suffered a stroke, rolled his car, and died. He had survived cancer, heart trouble, joint replacements, and knee surgery while playing for the Pokes."

Sally Ann Shurmur

April 24, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

He collected people like others might collect baseball cards or sneakers.

He could have run for Governor of Wyoming and won easily if he had stayed like I begged him to, but he was tired of being cold and went back home to Los Angeles.

When I say he was a grown man, a huge man, with not one enemy, that’s the truth. There is not a soul who knew him who didn’t genuinely love him.

Say you’re a celebrity game show host in Hollywood (a very well-known one) and you want a new car. You know what you want, but why schlep around to dealerships when you can use an auto broker.

Leon Broussard III was a great defensive tackle. He was a deputy sheriff. He owned LA Auto Consulting for nearly 40 years. He was the defensive coordinator for state champion The Brentwood School, whose head coach was another Wyoming Cowboy, Pat Brown.

He was a devoted son and brother, husband and father of five and giddy grandpa.

And he was the only guy, the only one, who Fritz the Dad ever brought home on a recruiting visit.

He has been my family, my friend, my rock in stormy seas, for 50 years.

We marked the anniversary every single third week of August. He always remembered.

Monday, while driving, he suffered a stroke, rolled his car, and died. He had survived cancer, heart trouble, joint replacements, knee surgery while playing for the Pokes, and he died while driving. I’ll bet he was really mad that he wrecked the car.

When going anywhere with BigTyme, it was sort of like being a small part of a very large entourage. No matter what logistics you might have planned, he’d see one person he knew, step off the track, and it was over.

Forget making dinner reservations. What started out as a lively table of eight would balloon and then balloon again and pretty soon, we’d be at a table the size of The Last Supper, walking from one end to the other to have a conversation.

If I had a dollar for every time I apologized at a Laramie restaurant for last-minute changes … I’d just say, “it’s Leon,” and they’d nod their head.

Leon loved life the way we all should. Once he was your friend, there was absolutely no shedding him.

Friday afternoons during the season in Laramie were our special time.

He would come to the Sports Information office, where I was “working,” and we’d walk into the empty stadium. We’d walk along the bottom of the west side stands, and sit a couple rows up and look at Jim Trabing’s grass.

We’d talk about the game plan for Saturday, I’d give him a hug for luck and then he’d either get ready for the walk-through if it was a home game or get on the bus to the airport for an away game.

His younger sister, Michelle, also came to UW and was on the same dorm floor as my sister.

Tuesday, Michelle wrote this on Facebook, “Defense in heaven is something else. Coach Shurmur and Leon are giving hell.”

After my parents left Laramie our freshman year, he called Peggy Jane the Mom every year on her birthday. It was the same day that his youngest child, Leon IV “Leeboy,” was born.

Leeboy was a brilliant and talented teenager, who once as a little kid told his dad he was growing out his Afro to emphasize his “blackness.”

Leeboy committed suicide four years ago at age 15 and his parents, Leon and Jessica, have been open and honest about the cause of death, hoping it might help just one family avoid the grief that consumed them.

Without fail, he called on Mother’s Day, my birthday, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

My number and Sal the pool man are next to each other in his contacts, and occasionally his fat fingers would hit the wrong one.

So several times I got bonus calls when he was supposed to be calling the pool guy, and an hour later we’d still be talking.

Last July, he left a birthday voicemail that was part song and part rap.

After singing Happy Birthday to You, he said, “I’m calling you up to give you this line, 49 years and a few more to go.”

I’m never deleting that voicemail.

Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at:

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Sally Ann Shurmur