Nov 8, 1922 - May 10, 2004
Vernon Gene Leckman was born in the small orchard town of Zillah, near Yakima, Washington in 1922. As a boy, he moved to North Dakota and eventually to California.
Leckman displayed a talent for drawing early and studied art informally through his teen years, winning many contests along the way. He worked for his parents at Leckman Hardware in the small Northern California town of Felton, where he also designed his first house.
Soon after moving to Souther California, Leckman joined the Coast Guard and spent much of World War II on a pickett boat which ferried medical personnel to Catalina Island. Following the war, Vern joined Long Beach architect Kenneth Wing's firm and along with large projects such as the Long Beach Arena, he designed community churches and family homes.
In the Fifties, he continued his focus on architecture, working for Victor Gruen & Associates and eventually for Welton Beckett & Associates, but his interior and furniture designs also appear in magazines of the time. By the late Fifties, Leckman was part of Beckett's design team for the Los Angeles International Airport, where his beautiful mosaic hallway has gently welcomed millions travelers from around the world to Southern California. The International Terminal's hallway also features prominently in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Jackie Brown.
On November 29, 1956 he was married to Marilyn McSween and in in 1958 their first son, Britt Kristopher Leckman was born.
Around 1961, Vern Leckman began a fruitful partnership with David Tallichet and his Specialty Restaurants Corporation where Leckman served as vice president and began designing the theme restaurant and shopping villages that would become his trademark.
A daughter, Lisé arrived in 1962 and the Leckman's changed gears opening a gourmet gift shop in Seal Beach, California. The Peddler's Pack carried an eclectic mix of kitchen and housewares as well as one of the best wine selections in Southern California, all housed in a building designed by Leckman himself. The store occupied nearly all of the family's time when youngest son Tad Ander Leckman was born in 1969. In 1973, Leckman had an opportunity to design a series of restaurants in Switzerland for the Mövenpick company and rather than commute back and forth to California, brought the family with him for a year.
Restaurants and shopping villages continued to pour from Leckman's drafting table throughout the Seventies and Eighties, but in the Nineties he turned his focus to amusement park design. The results can be seen all over the world from the Muppet Vision 3-D Theatre in Walt Disney World and the Daytona USA Motorsports Attraction in Florida all the way to the Fu Hua amusement park, in Weifang, China.
Returning to Washington state in 1997, Leckman made his home in Port Townsend where, while theoretically retired, he found time to work on a variety of projects in town including designing a new Food Co-Op. He also lent his expertise in Victorian architecture to the Port Townsend Historic Preservation Committee and volunteered for the Wooden Boat Foundation.
Along the way, Vern Leckman enjoyed painting, cooking, opera, gardening, books, and building museum-quality ship models.
He died in his sleep on the morning of Monday May 10, 2004 from a heart attack while recovering from abdominal surgery in Seattle's Swedish Hospital.
He is survived by:
Wife Marilyn Leckman of Long Beach, CA
Son Britt K. Leckman of Arlington, VA
Daughter Lisé Rodriguez of Beaufort, SC
Son Tad A. Leckman of San Francisco, CA
Photo of Vern's mosaic hallway at LAX:
Asian amusement parks and Daytona USA:
David Exline, Principal
© 2004 Tad and Rebecca Leckman.
All rights reserved.