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work on perhaps more profitable projects. The story of this home is one of calamity and loss, ultimately resolved into triumph, rebir th and the fulfillment of a dream. It's a tragedy with a happy ending. His is a quintessential American success story: born in Mexico, de Leon came to Carmel Valley at age 1, settling with his family on the Wolters Ranch. This man is no stranger to hard work. "I started picking lettuce at age 5," he says, "then worked at a grocery store and Rocky Point Restaurant." He progressed from dish- washer to cook before his lifelong career path presented itself. "A bunch of my buddies were working in construction," the garrulous de Leon says. "I saw they got to be outside all day, so I got interest- ed." He quickly grasped the trades and earned his contractor's license. His best friend and part- ner Howard Buck joined him in founding Buck and de Leon Construction in 1975. Between remodels and ground-up construction, the firm has worked on more than 100 Monterey Peninsula homes. "We've been working with Buck and de Leon for many years," says Gary Courtwright, AKBD, owner and designer of Carmel Kitchens and Baths. "They've always done exemplary work." At first glance, this home would seem to be just another remodel of a comfortable but dated Carmel Valley property. The builder and his wife Pam, a well-known Realtor, constructed this home in 1985. It was a typically designed home of the era, functional and cozy, a two-bed- room, 2,700-square-foot structure with a com- manding view of Carmel Valley Village and the Santa Lucia Mountains. By the mid-2000s, the de Leons had amassed a respectable art collection, mainly focused on bold, colorful abstract pieces. So when the cou- ple decided to remodel their home, they spoke to their friend, Big Sur artist Greg Hawthorne, who introduced them to his friend, Cambria- based architect Marshall Lewis, AIA. "My work is very contemporary," Lewis says. "That appealed to them. Rod and Pam were compatible in what they wanted and needed. It was like working with one person." Work began in 2006 and progressed apace until, like so many other building projects, the economic crunch of 2007-08 put the binders on it. Before work could resume, Pam de Leon was diagnosed with cancer. "This project was Pam's dream," her husband says. Tragically, she didn't live to see it come to fruition, eventually succumbing to the disease in 2014. Work had resumed, continuing during her illness, but with her passing, her devoted hus- band was at loose ends. 142 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 6 Circular windows admit amazing amounts of Carmel Valley light, and serve to showcase abstract sculpture. This dining area was formerly the living room.

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