Dewey Lee Hostetler went to see his Lord and Savior on his 95th birthday, Oct. 24, 2022, at Newton Medical Center, Newton.
Dewey was born to Ura and Della (Balmer) Hostetler in Harper on Oct. 24, 1927. He spent his childhood working on the farm with his brothers Lester, Albert and Delmar, and sisters, Thelma and Rosalea. Dewey attended Harper schools until he transferred to Hesston High School midway through his junior year.
Dewey was an exceptionally gifted athlete. He told stories about chasing after and catching jackrabbits! In his teen years, Dewey earned his pilot’s license and for many years entertained people by giving them rides to “jump trees” and “buzz” tractors and combines.
After graduating high school in 1946, Dewey worked with his cousin Delbert and Uncle Amra Hostetler milking cows. He was able to save enough money to purchase his first car. In the early 1950s, having been drafted due to the Korean War, Dewey chose alternate service as a Conscience Objector and served his time as a hospital orderly in LaJunta, Colo.
On May 3, 1952, Dewey married the love of his life, Bernice “Bernie” Lehman, at the bride’s parents’ home in Castorland, N.Y. Dewey and Bernie then settled in Harper.
As an avid ice cream lover, Dewey’s first job after marriage was as an ice cream truck driver. He later worked for the railroad repairing ties, followed by working at the concrete plant with Lester. Dewey and Bernice bought the family farm on the east side of Harper in 1961 where they moved their growing family, Lynn, Karen, Scott and Arlene. Heidi joined them eight years later. It was in the same year when production on a farm machine prototype called Hay MoBale was started. Hay MoBale was the forerunner of what would eventually become DewEze Manufacturing and later Harper Industries. Dewey was an incredibly creative thinker, whose inventions helped revolutionize farming and in doing so, secured 10 patents. Other ventures included founding the aviation program at Hesston College.
Dewey was a practical joker and enjoyed giving lifelong nicknames to friends and family. For many years, Dewey served as the local Santa Claus. He also enjoyed playing horseshoes and bowling. In 1972, he won the Father of the Year contest, which was especially poignant after the death of his beloved son, Scott, a few months prior.
Being exceptionally generous with his time and finances, Dewey never hesitated to help others. In his later years, Dewey was often seen with one of his beloved wiener dogs, Koko (“Choco”), and beamed with pride when people would stop to talk to them. Dewey knew no stranger and was known for his friendliness. He could often be found having conversations with old and new friends!
Dewey also served in various positions for the Mennonite Central Committee Relief Sales for over 45 years, including a nearly 20-year involvement on the executive board. Dewey was a superintendent for youth, as well as an elder at Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church where he was a lifelong member. Additionally, Dewey volunteered with Mennonite Disaster Service and attended mission trips to Texas.
Upon retiring from DewEze, Dewey founded Kettle Ventures Kettlecorn. A few years thereafter, Dewey and Bernie moved to Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton. They attended Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston.
Dewey was well loved within his community. He was a beloved son, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather, entrepreneur, pilot and farmer, who will be deeply missed. Preceding him in death are his parents; son, Scott Regan Hostetler; great-grandson Brooks Scott Lindsey and siblings Lester Hostetler, Thelma Kauffman and Albert Hostetler. Dewey is survived by his wife, Bernie of the home; children Lynn Hostetler (Lisa) of Bentonville, Ark., Karen Hostetler of Valley Center, Arlene Jantz (Mike Kraus) of Wichita, and Heidi Coates (Dennis) of Buena Vista, Colo.; brother, Delmar Hostetler (Julie) of Harper; sister, Rosalea Hostetler of Harper; 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; other relatives and many friends.
Private family Graveside Service took place Sunday morning at Pleasant Valley Mennonite Cemetery.
A Celebration of Life was at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Pleasant Valley Mennonite Church in Harper. A reception followed with ice cream and popcorn served just like Dewey would have preferred.
Memorial contributions may be made to Pleasant Valley Mennonite Cemetery Fund or Mennonite Central Committee and can be sent in care of the funeral home, Prairie Rose Funeral Homes, 613 W. 14th St., Harper, Kan., 67058.
Online condolences may be left and the video of Dewey’s service may be watched at www.prairierosefuneralhomes.com.