Leo Feldhaus, age 94, of Howard, died Thursday, May 2, 2019, at his home surrounded by his wife, Leona, and family members. A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 AM, Monday, May 6, 2019, at St. Agatha Catholic Church in Howard. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be 2-4 PM Sunday at the church, with a rosary at 3:45, followed by a scripture wake service.
Leo was born on May 11, 1924 to Theodore and Magdalena (Neises) Feldhaus. He was the 10th of 11 children. Leo graduated from St. Agatha High School in 1942, and joined The Navy soon after. He served as an anti-aircraft gunner on the escort carrier USS Kitkun Bay in all of the major sea battles of the Pacific Ocean, where he earned several medals. Leo was one of the last surviving WWII veterans in this area.
Leo was united in marriage to the love of his life, Leona Reisch, at St. Agatha Catholic Church in Howard, SD on June 3, 1946. Leo’s family and Leona’s family were well acquainted when the children were growing up and knew each other from childhood. Leona recalls that from the age of 6, when she played house with her siblings, she always pretended that Leo was her husband. Many love letters passed between them when Leo was in The Navy, with Leo writing many beautiful poems to his “Darling Leona”.
Leo and Leona resided on the same farm north of Howard since the time they married. Leo was an avid reader. His children recall him playing the harmonica and reading poems and stories to them. He also enjoyed fishing, golfing and pheasant hunting. His favorite pass time, though, was playing pinochle. He was hard to beat. If you wanted to win the game, you had better be his partner!
Those who knew him always appreciated his sharp and witty sense of humor. Through his example, Leo instilled honesty, hard work, and compassion for other people into his family. Of all the things he raised as a farmer, Leo was heard to say that his best crop ever was his children. He will be dearly missed.
Leo is survived by his wife of almost 73 years, Leona, thirteen children: Ron (Vernie), Jack (Deirdre), Linda (Gary) Daiss, Sharon (Rick) Daniels, Eugene, Elaine Loers, Rebecca (Fr. Michael) Walker, Sue Ellsworth, Connie Iverson, Mary Ann Esping, Laurie (Joe) Miller, Theodore, and David (Heidi), 36 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers, six sisters, one great-grandson Tyrese Parson, and two sons-in-law Gary Loers and Clifford Esping.
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