Lennox Wayne Randon, 59, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, died Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, at St. Luke's Hospital Hospice Unit after a lengthy battle, though he referred to it as a "tussle," with GIST cancer. He was cremated per his wishes. His memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, at Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories.
He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Lileah Furgerson Harris (a.k.a. "Schnoogums" and "The Intrepid Dr. Lileah Harris"). Also surviving are his sister, Valeta Rhodes (he called her "Boo"); other family; and many friends. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Lark (Alou) Randon; his mother, Lether Mae (Page) Marshall; and his father, Harold Randon.
Randon (he preferred to be called by his last name) was born in Houston, Texas, in 1959. In her "Biography of Lennox Randon," Lark wrote at age 11, "He went to first grade for 11 days when the teachers decided to skip him ahead to second grade. He was also taking third grade reading and math."
He graduated magna cum laude from M.B. Smiley High School. During his senior year, he was managing editor of the student newspaper, "The Eagle Call."
He joined the Houston Police Department and attended the Houston Police Academy. Lark wrote, "Seeing the mistakes people made in their lives, Randon decided to get a degree in education so that he could change the lives of people before they chose to make bad decisions." During his university years, he was selected for an engineering internship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the University of Texas at Austin with high honors. He started teaching the fifth grade gifted and talented program. Later, he became a technology teacher.
For a long time, Randon was fascinated with the U.S. Supreme Court and aspired to become a Supreme Court justice. After acing the Law School Admissions Test, he was accepted into Yale Law School, but soon realized that despite his high regard for Yale, a career as an attorney would not be a good fit for him. Instead, he returned to Houston and proposed to Lileah, who upon first meeting him in 1988 had been impressed by his essay "On Keeping Little Scraps of Paper." They married in 1992. Their extraordinary daughter Lark was born in 1997.
Much like Lark, Randon was a bibliophile, logophile, and writer, who at age three figured out how to read. When he didn't know the pronunciation of a written word, such as Neapolitan, he made one up ("napiliaky"). His neologisms, or Randonisms, flourished into adulthood, spoken for his own amusement: silver plate for "s'il vous plaît", trees chick for "très chic", and oh reservoir for "au revoir." He said Topo Gigio for Pinot Grigio and Hinkenknocker for Heineken, though he disliked and eschewed alcoholic beverages, lumping them all together under "whiskey."
Other favorites were sammitch, chirpo-practic, teefus and the oft-used burpday. He liked to say, "Grape jelly, the sign of a quality dining establishment," "dilly-dallying," and "one-two-seventeen!" When Lileah said, "C'est la vie," he would say, "La vie." He stuck to the British pronunciations of schedule, garage, petrol and valet.
A constant reader, Randon frequented local libraries, checking out books in addition to music and movies. His devotion to his daughter and love of books prompted him to volunteer at her schools, where he organized library collections, among other undertakings.
Randon was a gifted mimic. He imitated, realistically, the voices of dolphins, elephants, horses and cows. He performed hilarious impersonations of celebrities such as Jimmy Stewart, Walter Brennan, Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard on "Star Trek The Next Generation," Billy Crystal as ("You look marvelous") Fernando, and the Dana Carvey version of George H.W. Bush ("Wouldn't be prudent; not at this juncture"). He portrayed Mr. Spock in a school play, a well-matched role given his own logical way of thinking. He impersonated Michael Jackson, down to the falsetto voice, glove and shades, actually double shades. So while analytical, he could also be entertaining, or just silly. His sister Valeta recently remarked, "In every picture, he has to give the person bunny ears."
Randon was proud of his multiple careers, having worked as a police officer, schoolteacher, computer instructor, technical writer, and, as he liked to say, "full-time daddy." He was a guest on a television talk show in Houston where the topic was stay-at-home fathers.
Additionally, Randon was the author of two novels, thanks to teaming up with fellow Writing Lads, Rob Cline and Dennis Green. His mind was so full of plots that he would scramble out of bed at night to scribble down ideas for stories. His first novel, "Friends Dogs Bullets Lovers," was inspired by his real-life friendships and past experiences as a police officer. His second novel was a time-travel tale featuring Harriet Tubman and John Brown.
Randon wrote but never published a delightful children's book, "The Ugliest House on the Block." In 2016, he and Lark planned a comical story, "The GPS Lady," about an argumentative computer vehicle guidance program. He edited and assembled his late daughter's novel, "Christiania." A few months ago, he began sketching out a storyline in which he and Lark were private investigators.
Randon was a huge fan of music, collecting innumerable recordings, creating cool jazzy tunes in Garage Band, playing rapid rhythms on drums or "Greensleeves" lyrically on piano, and strumming his and Lark's guitars and electric bass. In 2016, he enrolled in a cabaret class at Theatre Cedar Rapids, singing two numbers at the group's recital. At home, he would break out in dances, which could be goofy, suave or debatable. Given his passion for music and affinity for technology, he would have been an excellent recording engineer or radio disc jockey.
He loved travel and regularly lined up trips with friends and family. Randon commemorated most trips by making and sharing DVD movies set to music. One of his first excursions with Lileah was a guided horseback-riding trek in the Gila Wilderness, where riders slept in tents and wranglers rounded up the horses from the hills each morning. That particular expedition was not his idea, but he went along out of thoughtfulness.
More to his liking were adventures in the Caribbean, Alaska, Colorado mountains and South Pacific. Randon had great reverence for the ocean and its creatures. He could scarcely get enough of snorkeling, parasailing, boating, paddle boarding, wave runners, jet skis, snuba diving and scuba diving for which he earned his PADI Scuba certification. Always a teacher, he helped his daughter, nephew and niece learn water sports. Randon was seldom daunted by risk if it was manageable. For example, he and an equally adventurous great friend broke down step-by-step how to safely leap from a high cliff in Kauai into the ocean.
He fed giant stingrays at Molokini Crater and took underwater photographs of eels and barracudas. He swam with sharks in the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay and off the island of Moorea. He went helmet diving and used sea scooters in places around the world.
Randon enjoyed bowling so much that he and a longstanding buddy dreamed of competing. For a time, they trained diligently at ten-pin lanes. Randon had been a member of his high school track team, running the 800 and 1500 meter races. While he was with the police department, he ran in track meets involving police agencies throughout Texas. He was so quick that his wife could never overcome his deft dodges and tricky spins to tag him as she chased him through their house.
Randon played tennis, hiked, explored caves, zip-lined, rappelled and took Segway tours. He had an impressive knack for downhill skiing, which was especially fabulous at The Resort at Beaver Creek. He was drawn to fairly extreme sports, including skydiving, rock climbing, white water rafting (with Lark), ultra-light aircraft flying/powered hang gliding (with Lark; her mother did not approve), and water jet-packing.
He taught family members how to operate Lark's scooter and his electric bicycle. Similarly, in high school he had helped a close friend learn to drive, thus enabling his friend to avoid parental chastisement.
One of his most rewarding experiences was becoming acquainted with several lagoon dolphins in Oahu. Randon and Lileah were so overjoyed that they laughed and cried as they rocked and kissed dolphin Hoku in their arms. They were also thrilled to see "La La Land" at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a top-ranked film on their computers' Movie List of the nearly 400 motion pictures they had watched together in theatres since their first date. That same summer, they witnessed and Randon photographed the total solar eclipse in Seward, Neb.
Randon said he did not have an inflated sense of self and didn't like bragging, maintaining that his special gift was finding well-situated parking spaces. Despite downplaying his importance in the world, he was confident and had a tremendous zest for life. Most of all, he was a steadfast friend who was loyal, forthright, generous and brave.
For a decade Randon faced an untimely demise, knowing it could come at any time. He defied a highly aggressive form of gastrointestinal stromal sarcoma, partnering with his local and Dana Farber oncologists to adjust chemotherapy doses such that his treatments could be tolerated instead of abandoned. He survived years beyond statistical expectations.
As for his legacy, he wrote, "By the way, just found out - there is an afterlife. I'm on the, uh, waiting list. They promised they'd call. Fingers crossed. I'm just hanging out in the holding area, watching curling on TV or reading a copy of "Goodnight Moon," and listening to a Muzak version of the B-side of an Enya single. Some of you I've known since your birth, 100% of your lives. If I looked all icky the last time you saw me, push that image on the back burner. The real me was hale, hardy and a little hairy. Please remember me looking good, for, as you know, darlings, it's better to look good than to feel good. You know what I'm talking about (Fernando finger waggle)."
In fact, his face was so handsome at the end that even Fernando would say Randon looked marvelous. He continued to radiate intelligence, kindness and wry good humor. His sister Valeta said his final joke was taking one more breath after his last breath. Randon wished for an afterlife so he could see Lark again. Hopefully he is with her now. Oh reservoir, darling.
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