Funeral Services for Reuben W. Stehl will be conducted from the Hope Lutheran Church of rural Smithfield, Nebraska on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. with the Reverends Tim Glendening and Darrel Wissmann officiating. Interment will be in the Highland Cemetery at Bertrand, Nebraska.
Reuben William Stehl was born August 1, 1921 to Henry and Bertha (Fastenau) Stehl just a mile south of the Hope Lutheran Church in Gosper County, Nebraska. He was the last of their four children to pass away at the age of 90 years, 7 months, 5 days. Born prematurely after a bridge plank broke, jolting the car his mother was riding in, Reuben was kept warm in a box, set on the door of the kitchen cook stove. He spoke German until he started school at the Tracyville School located over a mile away southwest of his birth place. In the winter he would many times stop and ice skate at the Cramer pond on the way to school. He and his siblings would usually walk or sometimes ride a horse but seldom be dropped off at school.
His education was only through the 8th grade due to his father dying in a tractor accident when Reuben was 7 years old leaving himself and his two older brothers: Harold and Vernon, to do the farm work. He talked about the time his dad had let him drive the tractor in the field all by himself when he was only 7 years old and how upset his mother had been. Reub was a self-taught man that could tear a motor apart, fix it and have it working again in a matter of days. He built his machine shop, garden building, his father-in-law, Jesse Dyer's garage plus many items that were needed on the farm. Many of these items include a flat-bed trailer, cattle chute, auger, blade for the back of a tractor, tandem trailer, and wood splitter. He had also made one of the first grain truck hoists in the surrounding area according to the Gosper County bin site manager, Homer Haney. Reuben said he didn't patent it at the time because of the cost to do that. Although they grew up just two miles apart, Reuben first met his wife to be, Beulah Dyer on main street in Bertrand when they were 15 years old. They were married in Lincoln, Ne on September 9, 1942 and celebrated their 63rd Wedding Anniversary prior to Beulah’s passing. Many times they talked about the hot beef sandwiches and coffee they'd gotten for 15 cents for their wedding lunch. They usually celebrated their anniversary by attending the state fair over 50 times, missing very few years until Beulah became ill in 2003.
They lived with Reuben's mother for a few years until settling to their farm, where they lived for almost 60 years farming in God's country. Both worked in the fields plus raising chickens, cattle and pigs, milking cows, and selling the cream and eggs in Bertrand.
He also helped build the J2 power plant by Lexington. An article was written in the Bertrand paper about Reuben and his corn shelling days. He remarked, “That's when he learned to eat lemon pie.” He really didn't like it at first, but he had it at about everyone's home during shelling time and finally acquired a taste for it. One of his great pleasures was helping neighbor, Verlouis Forster, deliver cattle all around the state.
Reuben was able to purchase his birth place from his brother, Vernon, right before Vern's death, keeping it in the Stehl family. The Stehl Family was awarded the Pioneer Farm Award for the family owning the land for more than 100 years. In 1993, Reuben and Beulah went to Germany to visit many of the Stehl relatives, having previously discovered no one had returned to Germany to visit for more than 80 yrs. For many years he went deer hunting and in later life, purchased a pasture south of his home in the canyons, where his grandson and great-grandchildren have spent some great family times together hunting. When he wasn't farming or working in his machine shop, Reuben loved going to the pasture fixing fence, spraying musk thistle or just checking on how much it had rained or how full the pond was for the cattle. He enjoyed many rides around the countryside when he no longer was able to drive.
Reuben was very proud of Hope Church as his grandfather, P.W. Stehl, had been one of the founding fathers. He was confirmed there with his books all written in German. Reuben was on the building committee for the church and built the cornerstone box containing church related items which are located by the front doors. He also made the wooden church that sits atop the mailbox out front. He served on the church council and as an usher throughout the years. Reuben and Beulah are probably the last generation that will ever be able to have been born, raised, lived, and buried within a 5 mile radius.
Left to mourn his passing are his two children: Lloyd Stehl and his wife, Dottie of Bertrand, and Janice Lilyhorn and her husband, Dale of Raymond, Nebraska; five grandchildren: Kevin Stehl and his wife, Sara of Bertrand, Angie Wissmann of Bertrand, Kellie Stehl of Holdrege, Terra Williams of Des Moines, Iowa and her fiancé, Scott Rech of Davey, Nebraska, and Lindsay Hier and her husband, Brian of Lincoln. Great-grandchildren are Dustin Stehl of Omaha, Brandon Stehl of Kearney, Shelby and Riley Stehl of Bertrand, Shane Wissmann of Grand Island, and Skylar Wissmann of Lincoln. Additional survivors are brothers-in-law: Leonard Dyer of Juniata, Nebraska, Bruce and Addie Dyer of Aurora, Nebraska, Larry and Karen Dyer of McCook, and Doug and Terry Dyer of Kearney, sisters-in-law, Esther Stehl of Bertrand, Alyce and Ralph Draney of Great Bend, KS. and also many relatives and friends.
Reuben is preceded in death by his parents, wife Beulah in 2006, two brothers: Harold Stehl, and Vernon Stehl and his two wives, June and Roena, sister, Rena Beaderman and her husband, Sam, sister-in-law, Marion Dyer, and brother-in-law, Dean Dyer and his wife, Dorothy. Visitation will be held on Friday, March 9, 2012 from 1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. with the family greeting from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Sandstrom Funeral Home in Bertrand.
A memorial has been established in his memory and kindly suggested to the Bertrand Fire and Rescue.
Expressions of caring and kindness can be sent to the family at www.nelsonbauerfh.com
The Sandstrom Funeral Home in Bertrand is in charge of the arrangements.