Leonard Noah Garaway

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Leonard Noah Garaway


Leonard Noah Garaway (picture taken in 1997)

Leonard (Noah as he became called when we moved to Israel in 1983) was born January 15, 1947. Younger brother of Bill Garaway, he was one of the early settlers on the Land living in his house built on the back of a pick-up truck.

In September 1973, he and Gay married and soon after moved to Round Valley in northern California where he became a commercial beekeeper in addition to running a commercial organic apple orchard. By then also a pilot, he was deeply inspired by a book about bush pilot Nate Saint, and ultimately decided to sell it all (except the plane) and head out to somewhere where people didn’t have much. Down to earth, practical, with some serious hands-on technical skills and a tender heart, he figured life would be more meaningful sharing and teaching the skills he had learned rather than just using them to get more stuff.

In 1980 they sold it all, and went back to school to get a degree in aviation (to be able to fix the plane in the bush with a rubber band and screwdriver…ha!) . By 1983 they were on their way, via Israel, and ended up stopping off for a bit, ultimately putting down roots in Israel. It was from there that subsequent work and travel took place, first India and then later to Rwanda, just after the genocide, where he served as director of a large international relief agency. Increasingly convinced that large international humanitarian assistance efforts are big business and often counter productive, setting poor models for healthy rehabilitation and growth, he spent most of the time there building relationships with Rwandaise and Tutsi from the DR Congo (then Zaire).

In September 1997 they were invited by Congolese leaders to a conference to celebrate the overthrow of Mobutu (a dictator for over 30 years) and the beginning of a new future for the Congo. Noah was to be a keynote speaker, bringing a blessing from Israel (these guys loved the Bible and Israel). The conference was to take place in the mountains of eastern Congo in the place where the first uprising started. Flying in with the first round of dignitaries, Noah was a passenger not the pilot. The plane crashed near the arrival point and turned into a fireball, with no survivors. Gay (Gila) was not on the flight.

Noah himself was the blessing, planted there in those mountains. Although Ken had carried his talit from Israel with hopes of bringing him back to Israel for burial, there was no discerning who was who—burned, flesh color was indeterminable. While working in Rwanda, Noah had often remarked how wonderful it would be if you could only see the heart, not the color.