Published in Press-Enterprise on Mar. 19, 2017
Denham G. "Denny" Leftwich
DENHAM GARFIELD LEFTWICH
1932 - 2017
Denham Garfield Leftwich, of Menifee, passed
away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday,
March 8, 2017.
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle and
friend, Denham was dearly loved by all for his kind
heart, honesty, intelligence, and strong work ethic.
Born to Helen and James Leftwich in Charleston, West Virginia on June 3, 1932,
Denham spent the first decade of his life with his parents, brother Charles and sisters,
Phyllis and Bobbi in a small cabin with no running water in Campbells Creek, West
Virginia. He loved the family cow, Bessie, and long hours playing outside in the wide
open spaces of coal mining country. One of his most vivid memories was of watching
his mother using buckets of water to wash the black coal dust off of his father at the end
of each day as he stood in a metal tub in the center of the small kitchen. After 26 years
in the coal mines, James Leftwich chose a new life for his family and headed for
Washington, D.C. Denham arrived in the nation's capital, in the rumble seat of his
fathers old car, where his family moved into a two bedroom apartment on 9th Street NE.
While he missed the great outdoors of West Virginia, he and his brother loved riding
street cars and the adventures they had in the historic city.
Denham's happiest memories of growing up were from many, many hours spent at the
D.C. Metropolitan Police Boys Club, where he competed in boxing and basketball. As a
teen, he loved spending every summer working at Camp Ernest W. Brown Boys Club in
Scotland, Maryland as a counselor, making $15 a month.
Upon graduating from Eastern High School (1951), Denham joined the Navy and
served on a destroyer traveling the world and serving in hostile waters. After four years
of service during the Korean War, he knew he preferred being on dry land and chose to
start a career in the trades as a lineman for the Potomac Electric Power Company. He
would later be part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, working as a
respected journeyman lineman, risking his life daily on high voltage power poles in
overwhelming summer heat as well as extreme blizzard conditions, day and night for
One night while celebrating his return home from the Korean War, destiny stepped in
when he crossed paths with the love of his life, Barbara Edwards. It was love at first
sight for both Denham and Barbara, who were married and dedicated to each other for
more than 60 years as they built a beautiful life and raised five children. Denham never
regretted moving his family 3,000 miles to Orange County, California in 1978. It was
there that he started a new career as a general contractor flipping houses and
renovating homes along the coast long before it became a trend. He and Barbara lived
in Mission Viejo, San Clemente, and Carlsbad before moving to Sun City in Menifee in
Denham was the definition of unconditional love. While he held others to the high
standards he had for himself, he was quick to understand that people are human and
make mistakes. "Everything is a habit," he would say. "There are good habits and bad
habits. Every day, with every choice, you have the opportunity to choose good." He gave
unlimited second chances and could not hold a grudge. His absolute joy in life came
from providing for his family. No one has ever worked harder or longer and enjoyed it
more than Denham did. While his passing leaves a void that can never be filled, he
leaves behind a legacy of service, hard work, integrity and devotion to each of those he
loved. It is a legacy to which we all must aspire.
Denham is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Barbara; his children and their
families Dana Hexum, Robin Leftwich, Daniel Leftwich and Denham Leftwich; twelve
grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
he was preceded in death by his daughter Linda Hooker.