Leroy Emerald Bingham left this earth in the early hours of May 18, 2022, while surrounded by his loving family in Billings, MT. He was 67 years old.
Leroy was born on October 7, 1954, at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, MT to Rosella (Buel) and Russell Bingham. Leroy was a proud member of the Blackfeet Nation and a fierce advocate for Indian Country. His most special memories from childhood were of spending time with family at Two Medicine on the Blackfeet Reservation as well as the Bingham family home in Cut Bank, MT. Leroy was a “military brat” and grew up in many places, with a special fondness for his time in Salem, OR, and Twenty-Nine Palms, CA. Leroy graduated from Cut Bank High School in 1972. He also spent cherished time in his early twenties in Maui, HI, and Butte, MT.
Leroy had strong Alaskan roots. He lived in Anchorage off and on from 1972-1998. Among his favorite claims to fame were serving as the Executive Director of Cook Inlet Tribal Council and being the “Leroy” in the Michelle Shocked song “Anchorage” – “Leroy says, ‘Keep on Rockin!’”
Leroy was a brilliant leader, writer, advocate, historian, grant writer, and planner. His contributions to Indian Country were great, with his greatest accomplishments including passing the 477 laws, developing his own budget software, and raising millions of dollars for grants and programs for the love of Indian people and communities.
Leroy had a special charisma, with infectious laughter and a twinkle in his eye. He made friends wherever he went. To know him was to love him. Leroy was the most loving husband, father, and grandfather. He loved spending time with his family; and especially loved to gather to eat great food, listen to his amazing music playlists, and watch his epic movie collection. Leroy was a wonderful storyteller and had an amazing ability to make history come alive. He was knowledgeable in Blackfeet, Civil War, and American history, but had a vastness of knowledge far beyond that.
Leroy is survived by his wife, JoAnn Bingham; his children, Dyani Bingham (Bently Spang), Katyra Baker (Cullen), Kevin Johns-Bingham, Asia DeJongh (Brett); grandchildren, Preston Baker, Troy Spang, Triston Baker, Terrance Baker, Kile Bouyer, and Cierra Swoboda; 7 great-grandchildren; 2 great-great children with another one on the way. He is preceded in death by his parents, Russell and Rosella Bingham; grandparents Edgar and Nellie (Grant) Buel, Herbert and Doris (Smiley) Bingham; Great-grandma and grandpa Rosie and Richard Grant and the father of his heart, Robert “Bob” Azure; and numerous aunties, uncles, cousins and friends. In our time of sadness, we apologize if we left anyone out.
A ceremony for Leroy will be held at a later date in Two Medicine.
“Say a prayer for the pretender, who started out so young and strong only to surrender.”