A Life Lived: Leslie Head was a man of few wants who took pride in his work

Published 1:40 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
Leslie “Les” Head was a man of few wants. He liked fast cars and his life’s work was making them shine and look good.
It’s been said that every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it, and that person should autograph it with excellence. Les Head did just that.
He didn’t have a fancy garage to do his work in, but he took pride in every vehicle he painted. “He enjoyed painting cars, and knew every vehicle he painted. He could spot his work anytime he seen it,” said his wife, Debbie.
Les liked cars, period. “When he was growing up he didn’t have much, but he enjoyed cars and drag racing. He used his only car for both his work car and drag racing on the weekends. On Fridays he would overhaul it for drag racing on Saturday, and on Sunday, he would change it back for work,” Debbie shared with a laugh.
“Everyone that knew Les knew he was a wheeler-dealer in cars. Cars and camping were his thing,” his wife shared.
Married 42 years, Les and Debbie did a lot of camping. She shared that their first camping gear included an old canvas tent, which had moth holes in it. “When it came a downpour, everyone and everything got soaked,” Debbie said, noting that she wouldn’t trade those times for anything as they were made of love.
One of Les’s favorite places to camp was right here at home on Watauga Lake. However, he and Debbie enjoyed camping at Hungry Mother Park, the KOA campground in Pigeon Forge, Roan Mountain State Park, just to name a few. However, the couple had traveled out west to the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, and lots of places between here and there.
“Les liked adventure, and he liked challenges. He was a hard worker, and a very humble person. He came up the hard way. He was one of seven children and he grew up entirely different from what I did. He often shared that when Christmas came, he and his siblings never knew what it was to get a toy for Christmas. They were lucky if they got an apple or orange. He wanted to make sure that life was better for me. He always made sure we had a comfortable home and the things we needed. And, the one thing he gave me wholeheartedly was his love,” Debbie said.
Les made life fun for both he and Debbie, but for the past few years, arthritis had set in and little by little his activities were curtailed. “We still camped some. We had a permanent spot at Pioneer Landing, and did most of our camping there,” Debbie said.
“He was honest as the day is long, and if he sold you a car, he told you the bad and the good, and then he would work to make a deal,” she said.
She shared that once while working at Phipps Bend, he ended up with a big box of new fingernail clippers. When I asked what he was going to do with them, he said: “Sell them.”
“In less than two weeks, he sold every one of those fingernail clippers,” she said with laughter. “He could sell anything.”
Les Head grew up in the Whitehead Hill section of Roan Mountain. He was not a rich man by any means when he died, but he left behind a lot of friends, who have some wonderful memories of a man who enjoyed people more than things, and gave his best to them.