GARF Director and Industry Pioneer LeRoy Headlee Passes Away


It is with a sad heart that we report today the passing of aquarium industry icon and Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation (GARF) founder, Leroy Headlee. For all of those aquarium hobbyists who have been at it for a while, you know exactly the kind of impact this one individual had on the industry. He basically wrote the book on coral fragging and aquarium DIY, and started doing all of this with great success well over 20 years ago. He taught us how to use razorblades and super glue to make new frags, how to build aquariums out of plywood, and how to properly care for those delicate creatures in our glass boxes. Heck, he was even aquaculturing live rock as far back as 1995. LeRoy’s advice and knowledge of marine ornamentals expanded the hobby in ways you couldn’t even begin to comprehend, and he probably single handedly saved thousands of reef keepers from disaster.

Leroy, you will truly be missed in this hobby, and our condolences go out to your friends and loved ones.

The GARF organization, the brainchild of LeRoy and Sally Jo Headlee, was founded specifically to educate Idaho residents and the rest of the world on topics centered around ponds, freshwater plants, coral aquaculture, and proper fish care to name a few. His passions were met with success, as GARF became a valuable resource in the infant stages of the marine aquarium hobby in the United States. Eventually, GARF would literally explode with the increased usage of the net over the years, allowing hobbyists to access valuable information to keep their tanks running in tip top shape.

While the exact cause of LeRoy’s death has been withheld from the public, and rightfully so, we do know that he had been having some health issues as of late. In an undated posted on the GARF website, LeRoy explains that he was recovering from a stroke, though doctors indicated he was on a good path to recovery. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days ago, on Memorial Day.


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  • I learned a lot from GARF, and they were early to the internet game in the hobby. Back in the mid-late 90’s I spent hours on the GARF site reading their reports. I made my own rock, followed their recipes for reef care for lighting and supplements. I also started 2 different tanks with their GARF Grunge and clean-up crews. Rest in Peace LeRoy, your contribution to the hobby will not be forgotten!

  • I knew Leroy since 1964. (Junior High) He was my boyfriend in the 8th grade and remained my very good friend into adulthood. His nickname then was “Duke” from the song Duke of Earl. smile.
    I knew him when he was taking tropical fish to the hot springs in Bruneau and leaving them there to multiply and then harvest them to sell to fish stores when he was still in high school. My first husband and I socialized with his first wife and his kids. He taught me about the healing properties of the Aloe vera plant when my son burned himself badly in 1975. I knew him when he ran his fish stores in the 70s and 80s. He built me a custom made aquarium for my home in 1974, by then he was already an expert on all things aquatic.
    I won’t go into detail on our “hippie” years. 🙂 but I know lots of stories.
     I helped him design the very first logo for GARF way back in about 1982… long before Sally Jo entered the picture. I travelled the back roads of Idaho with him visiting geothermal sites all over southern Idaho. I helped him entertain his friends from all over the U.S. when he was first building GARF. Alas I moved out of Boise and didn’t talk to him much the past few years, but when I did it was always “HEY! how the heck are ya dear friend! Yes Leroy was one of a kind, a pioneer of aquatics but so much more. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. Another gentle soul has crossed over, and a little bit of light has gone out of the world.

  • Whats sad, is there website has never changed, and still allows orders….now Im out my money. You might figure his wife, if she wasnt going to continue this business, you would figure that they would atleast tear down the webpage, and handle the affairs of the business.