Leonard Steider was born to Lee and Emma Steider on Valentine’s Day of 1938 at home on the family farm in Nebraska. He reached his journey’s end on this Earth on May 8, 2022, and God called him on to a greater life.
At birth, he joined a family of four brothers and one sister: Lowell, Kenneth, Lester, Madonna and Delmer. He went to a rural school until the school burned the night of the Christmas party when he was in the fifth grade, and thus completed schooling through high school in Shickley, Neb.
While filling out paperwork to go to Hesston College, he was offered a job running the meat canner for Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa. Piloting a semi-truck sounded much more adventuresome than college to this 18-year-old, and he soon left home to enjoy the next two years traveling through different states driving the canner truck. During the warmer months of those two years, he was a psychiatric aide at Prairie View Mental Health Center in Newton, receiving the voluntary service wage of $30 a month to cover his expenses.
After two years of voluntary work was completed, he settled in Hesston and began delivering feed for the Hesston Mill. Noon lunch was usually eaten at Bob’s Variety Store in downtown Hesston, where he became acquainted with Janice Walker, from Newton, over mashed potatoes and meatloaf. After discovering a mutual interest in roller-skating and bowling, they began to date, with their first date at the Grand Old Opry in Wichita.
They were married in 1961 at the First Baptist Church in Newton. They started their married life living in Hesston, joined Hesston Mennonite Church and maintained that membership through life.
They were blessed with two children, Annette and Scott. Later, Glynis Wonders and Greg Brown joined the family as the children’s spouses and then came the great treat of becoming grandparents to five most special grandchildren: Garret Steider (Kina), Madison Johnson (Walker), Regan Winberry (Chance), Makenzie Barber (Brandon) and Taylor Brown.
Leonard went to school and became a heating and air conditioning expert, working for many years for Jantz & Woolery in Newton as an electrician. He later ran Leo’s Repair for 10 years in Newton. Following that, he worked for Bethel College for 15 years, where he very much enjoyed his contact with co-workers, students and faculty as he applied his expertise and enjoyment of solving problems to everything from inventing new and more cost-efficient methods in the maintenance area to repairing scientific equipment.
He took art classes at the college, as well as wood-carving classes from a local wildlife carver, and spent happy hours creating cherished duck and bird carvings.
After retirement, a part-time job at Graber’s Hardware gave him the opportunity to use both his problem-solving skills and indulge his love of people. He later volunteered with Schowalter Villa and the Et Cetera Shop.
He leaves a legacy to his family of special memories, of performing daily small acts (really deeds of grace) while performing service work, his special craftsman talents he had in working with his hands, and we remember his delight in gathering with friends and relatives, especially if dessert was included.
Leonard willed his body to The University of Kansas School of Medicine for research. The family will later hold a private memorial service. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his honor to Hesston College toward the Kenneth Steider Endowed Scholarship.
In Leonard’s memory, invite a friend out for dessert and tell jokes and stories that make you laugh.