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Dockside denizen's a friend to the fleet.

Byline: Profile by The Register-Guard

Name: Leo Stapleton, 70, Florence

Claim to fame: Fishing groupie? That's a bit harsh. Leo's more of a dockside saint, actually. For the past eight years, he's been babying the Florence fleet's decrepit ice machine, running the hoists, offloading boats, anything he can do to help. Free of charge.

Why? Because he's a nice guy, for crying out loud. Why does there always have to be an ulterior motive? "I just like fishermen," he shrugs. "They're trying their best to make a living."

Salt in the veins, and all that: Not that Stapleton isn't familiar with the whole boat-and-water thing. He's a career Navy man, after all. But he wasn't just any Navy man (keep reading and you'll find out what we mean by that.)

With my little eye, I spy... Well not a spy, exactly. Stapleton was a photographer for the Navy from 1957 to 1974, when he retired. That means he snapped photographs of all kinds of sensitive stuff he can't talk about.

He's also a name dropper: Stapleton shadowed astronauts Peter Conrad and John Young during his career, and he once studied under photographer Ansel Adams, who taught him the secret to bringing out detail in a wedding dress (we're not telling.)

Did he go postal? No, but it's probably not a great idea to use that expression around him.

Stapleton worked for the Florence Post Office for 20 years after he moved here.

Doesn't he ever get tired of just helping out fishermen? No, but he doesn't just help fishermen. He also bleaches sand dollars and gives them away to kids who happen by the docks (with parental approval, of course.) And he used to drive for Florence Food Share, until a heart attack limited his abilities.

But Stapleton still spends 14 to 16 hours a day at the docks, he says. Always glad to lend a hand.

- Winston Ross

If you know someone who would make a great subject for a Register-Guard Profile, send it to Jim Murez at jmurez@ guardnet.com or P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440.

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Leo Stapleton spends 14 to 16 hours a day helping out folks in the fishing industry at the Florence docks.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 8, 2004
Words:372
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