LaVern E. Wendt

LaVern E. Wendt

LaVern E. Wendt, 89, of Leigh, died Friday, June14, 2024, at CHI Immanuel Hospital in Omaha.

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, June 19, 2024  10:30 a.m.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, rural Leigh, Nebraska

Rev. Dr. Marsha Jark-Swain

Visitation Tuesday, June 18, 2024  5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Kracl-Leigh Memorial Chapel, Leigh, Nebraska

additional Visitation Wednesday one hour before service at the church

Committal with Military Rites in the Leigh Cemetery

Memorials to the family for future designation

Lunch following the committal at the fairgrounds.

LaVern Ervin Wendt was born July 21, 1934 in Leigh. The third son born to Walter and Katherine (Reininger) Wendt. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he was a lifetime member. LaVern attended District 20 grade school and graduated from Leigh High School in 1952. He participated in football and track and qualified for the State Track Meet all four years of high school in the low hurdles. In the early 40’s, he remembers hand-picking corn and doing field work with a team of horses while growing up on the farm. They used horses at the time to harrow and put up hay. His dad, though, did buy an Allis Chalmers WC tractor in 1936, which was one of the first rubber tired tractors in the area.

After high school, he helped his father on the farm. Shortly after school, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He spent four months short of 6 years in the service. Most of his time was spent in Columbus but he did serve 2 years of active duty, being stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Fort Eustes in Virginia, and Camp LeRoy Johnson in New Orleans in Louisiana where he was a supply clerk.

He married Joyce Marie Applebee on December 20, 1955, at First Presbyterian Church in Schuyler, while home on leave. After the wedding, she returned with him to New Orleans. In 1957, he was released from active duty and returned to Columbus, NE where he worked for Irrigation Pump Company and Behlen Manufacturing as a welder. He also worked for Harold Miles Construction building houses. In the spring of 1959, they moved to a 160-acre farm south of Leigh, just a few miles from where LaVern grew up. He started with very little but with the help of his father and the Bank of Leigh, he managed to survive. His dad helped him buy some livestock and fuel and bought him his first tractor: a 1954 WD Allis Chalmers which is still in the family. The Bank of Leigh helped him buy more milk cows and install a milking machine. The income from this set-up more than paid for the monthly bills. LaVern eventually took over his father’s corn shelling business, which helped add to the family income.

In the early 70’s, they were forced to sell the milk cows due to government regulations. So, they started buying feeder calves and increased their farrow to finish hog business up to 60 sows, with the pigs being finished in outside lots. In 1976, they plowed up their pasture and put in their first irrigation well and pivot, which ended the feeder calves. The land base has grown over the years by renting more land from retiring neighbors and also buying some land. They farmed 780 acres of corn and soybeans as of 1988.  LaVern was an active father of three children, who participated in showing livestock in 4-H and FFA at the county and state fairs. To date, 6 of his family members have received the State FFA Degree. He became involved in the community serving on the maple Valley Co-op Board in Leigh for 15 years, Tri County Board, and St. Paul’s Church Council. In 1993, he received the Outstanding Area Farm Family Award and the Area Senior Farmer of the Year Award in 2014, both sponsored by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. In 1995, LaVern left the farm place to his son, Bruce, and moved into Leigh. He continued to farm and help his son for several years.

His biggest enjoyment was ballroom dancing. He and his wife, Joyce, enjoyed their Sundays, dancing all over the Midwest, making many lifelong friends along the way. In the area, they went to the Oak Ballroom in Schuyler, the Kings Ballroom in Norfolk, or the Howells Ballroom. In later years, they traveled to Texas and Arizona each January following the big bands playing at the resorts.

LaVern is survived by: his wife of 69 years, Joyce of Leigh

Daughter: Susan (Tom) Kabes of Clarkson, NE

Grandson Chad (Kristi) Settje, Reagan, Kennedy, Baylee, Brynn, and Bergan of Creston, NE

Grandson Grant (Brandi) Settje, Kolten, Taelynn, and Ryker of Laurel, NE

Grandson Kyle (Reghan) Kabes, and Hayes of Clarkson, NE

Grandson Clay Kabes of Leigh, NE

Daughter: Sandra (Bruce) Hascall of Lincoln, NE

Grandson Garrett (Sara) Poland of Omaha, NE

Grandson Taylor Poland of Lincoln, NE

Son: Bruce (Jean) Wendt of Leigh, NE

Granddaughter Jessica (Scott) Kurpgeweit, Levi, Hadley, and Evelyn of Leigh, NE

Granddaughter Jody (Jeff) Herchenbach of Litchfield, NE

Granddaughter Jamie (Trevor) Foster of Lincoln, NE

Brother: Wallace Wendt of Leigh, NE

Sister-in-law: Dorothy (Leonard) Wendt of Clarkson, NE


LaVern is preceded in death by:

Parents: Walter and Katherine Wendt

Brothers: Morris Wendt, Leonard Wendt, and Earl Wendt

Sister-in-law: Dorethy (Wallace) Wendt

Sister-in-law: Joy (Earl) Wendt