Robert H. Leverenz, 93, a resident of Harvest Home Senior Living, broke free from the grip of dementia and the limitations of his earthly body to join his Lord and Savior on February 18, 2013.
Bob was born on June 17, 1919, the oldest of four children of Clarence and Clara (Jung) Leverenz. Having received both his elementary and secondary education in the Sheboygan Public School System, Bob graduated with honors from Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in 1940. He married Margaret Laing on February 8, 1941, and they enjoyed a happy marriage of 55 years prior to her death in 1996.
He had three years of cost accounting and office management experience with Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Neenah and three years of military service as an Army officer in World War II before joining the Leverenz Shoe Company in 1945. He was elected president of the firm in 1963 and became its board chairman/C.E.O. in 1969, retiring from that position in 1985.
He then formed R.H.L. Consulting Services and served as a director of Sargento Foods, Inc. and Vinyl Plastics, Inc., LLC. While on the board of VPI, he served as their Director of Lifelong Learning.
During his 20-year period of service as a director of Firstar Bank-Sheboygan, he was nominated and selected in 1980 as Wisconsin's Small Businessperson of the Year. He was also honored when he received Distinguished Citizenship Awards from the Sheboygan Kiwanis Club, the Sheboygan Jaycees, and the Sheboygan Noon Rotary Club.
Bob was a past board chairman and lifetime honorary director of Footwear Industries of America, and he was a life member of the Two/Ten Associates, the philanthropic arm of the shoe industry.
He was a past president of the Sheboygan Kiwanis Club and in 1959 was Governor of the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District of Kiwanis International. He was an active Big Brother for eight years and served as president of the Sheboygan County Chapter.
A member of the Sheboygan County YMCA Board of Directors for 28 years, Bob served as president of that organization during a dramatic $1,000,000 building expansion program. He also received the first YMCA Lifetime Service Award in 2001. Long active both as a director and fundraiser for the Sheboygan Area United Way, he was the general chairman of the successful 1963 United Way campaign.
Bob was involved with Prison Fellowship and was a past director of Self-Help of Wisconsin, both organizations dedicated to prison ministry. He served as president of the Sheboygan Board of Police and Fire Commissioners and was a Past Master of Sheboygan Lodge #11, F. & A.M., as well as being a member of the Wisconsin Consistory and Tripoli Shrine.
He enjoyed sharing his business experience with Economics Classes at Sheboygan North High School as a part of the Junior Achievement Program. He also served as a member of the board of directors of Junior Achievement of Sheboygan County.
Bob was an active member of St. Luke United Methodist Church for more than 80 years, and for a few years of Evangelical Free Church. He was most recently a member of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. His entire family will remember how he set a good example of how to lead a Christian life by putting God first and his family close behind. Many people looked to him for advice on how to interact with others. His passion for lifelong learning led him to encourage each of his
grandchildren to write an annual essay on a religious topic of his choice for which they could earn monetary rewards based on their thought, grammar, punctuation, and organization. His family and friends will remember that he was always a stickler for correct expression of thought and proper use of the English language.
In addition to spending many hours in community service, he was the best father, grandfather, and great-grandfather that children could have. He found time to play with kids of all ages, and he was interested in all of his family members' accomplishments, no matter how great or small. He taught many children how to fish and play baseball at his beloved cottage in northern Wisconsin, and his family will remember fondly the many hours of fun shared with him up north as well as at his home in Sheboygan.
He taught his sons and son-in-law the ONLY way to prepare bratwurst and the very best way to grill mouth-watering tenderloin steak. Bob always enjoyed competition, whether on the tennis court, the golf course, in a card or pool game, or any other challenging situation he could find. At age 88, he was the oldest tennis player at the Sports Core, continuing to play in two leagues until his 89th year. He remained a "kid" at heart, always endeavoring to make people laugh by playing pranks on his friends, and telling jokes or funny stories.
Bob considered his three married children and their spouses, along with seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren among his greatest blessings. He is survived by two of his three children: daughter, Ann (Jon) Keckonen of Sheboygan, and son Thomas (Marilyn) Leverenz of Minneapolis, MN, and his daughter-in-law, Kay Leverenz of Kaukauna. His surviving grandchildren are Stephen Keckonen(Minneapolis), Elizabeth (Martin) Hejl (Horb, Germany), Timothy Leverenz (Kaukauna), Tammy (Robert) Holmes (Kuwait), Lisa (Rob) Paul (Minneapolis), Nicole (Andrew) Villas (Castle Rock, CO), and Andrew Leverenz (Minneapolis). He is further survived by great-grandchildren Stephanie and Alex Vahlsing, Tristan Keckonen, Alisa Leverenz, Owen, Alec, and Aiden Villas, and Charlie and Savannah Paul. He is also survived by his sister, Phyllis (Bill) Younger, 4 nephews, and 1 niece. He is further
survived by his long-time friend, Alice Senty, with whom he spent many enjoyable hours playing cards, dining, and attending the theater. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife Margaret, two brothers, his son Bob Jr., two infant grandchildren, 2 sisters-in-law, and 1 nephew.
Bob's family wishes to thank the caregivers at Harvest Home and Grace Hospice for their incredible loving care in the last 3 months of his life. His caregivers said many times how amazed they were at his polite responses, always saying "thank you" for everything they did for him, even if it caused him pain. They said he was kind, gentle, and appreciative, and they loved caring for him. He also appreciated the loving care he previously received at Terrace Estates.
A memorial service in celebration of Bob's life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 23rd at 2:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, 310 Bluff Avenue, Sheboygan. Rev. James H. Hollister, Senior Minister, will officiate. Visitation will be held at Ballhorn Funeral Chapels on Friday, Feb. 22nd, from 4 – 6 p.m. and at First Congregational Church on Saturday from noon until the time of the service.
In lieu of flowers, it was Bob's wish that memorial contributions be given to First Congregational Church, United church of Christ, Sheboygan or to the Sheboygan County YMCA, or to the charity of the donor's choice.
Ballhorn Funeral Chapels and Crematory is assisting the family.