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Leonard Graeser

leonard graeser
Leonard H. Graeser age 98 of Waverly, died Saturday, February 27, 2016, at Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community in Waverly. Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 5, 2016, at the Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home - Olson Chapel in Nashua. Interment will be in Sunnyside Memory Gardens, rural Charles City. Friends may greet the family 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 4, 2016 at the Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home - Olson Chapel in Nashua. Visitation continues an hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Leonard Henry Graeser was born October 28, 1917, in Waverly, Iowa, the son of Henry F. and Elsia (Miller) Graeser. He attended Hogan country school in rural, Nashua, and graduated from Nashua High School in 1936. Leonard worked for the McGregor's for 5 years as a farm-hand. In 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army. He served in World War II, and while fighting in North Africa, was captured as a POW and taken to Germany. He was a POW in Germany for 2 years and 3 months. Leonard and four others escaped the facility and stole bikes to ride toward the American Line. They traveled during the day by bike, and hid during the night until they reached the American Troops. Leonard returned to the States in 1945. Leonard was united in marriage to Shirley Henderson on October 12, 1946, at the United Methodist Church in Nashua. To this union one daughter, Diane was born. The couple moved to Brookfield , Illinois, to find work. They lived in Brookfield from 1946 - 1979. Leonard worked as a welder during this time on several large power plants in the Chicago area. Shirley and Leonard retired to Waverly, IA, in 1979. Leonard enjoyed going to area county fairs, and high school sporting events in the area. He also enjoyed helping on his brother's farms. Leonard had a love for horses. He never missed watching the Kentucky Derby on TV. In addition, he was fortunate enough to spend some time with the Budweiser Clydesdale team on several occasions. Leonard was an active member of the Ralph Nicholson VFW Post in Nashua. In 2011, he went on the honor flight flying from Waterloo to Washington D.C. Leonard enjoyed reminiscing with fellow veterans and seeing the monuments and memorials in D.C. Leonard is survived by his daughter, Diane (Bill) Freestate of Waverly, IA; brother, Merle (Violet) Graeser of Plainfield, IA; two sisters, Margaret Jensen of Waverly, IA, Jeannette White of Waverly, IA. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Shirley in 2012; two brothers, Gilbert and Elmer Graeser; three sisters, Laura Powell, Helen Lillich, and Florence Roberts. Memorials may be directed to the Ralph Nicholson VFW Post # 6792 101 E. Main Nashua, IA 50658.

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  1. Nearly two years ago, at the Iowa state fair, there was an older gentlemen I noticed ‘camped’ out in our budweiser tent all day. His daughter and son in law had brought his folding chair for him to rest in, and he spent the day just watching the Clydesdales. Later on when I had some spare time, I got the privilege of speaking with this veteran, named Leonard Graeser. Come to find out, he was a life long Clydesdale fan. And they drove hours to come to the fair, just to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. The way his daughter, Diane, spoke about him, well it was clear he had been an amazing man and father his whole life. We befriended this gentleman and his family, invited them back to get a personal tour of our horses in the tent. He was so honored, but it was really us that got the great privilege to meet him. Our show that day was right at the fairgrounds. His family watched up close as we hitched the horses and got ready to parade. In last minute decision, my coworker and I informed Leonards daughter, Diane, that we were ‘stealing’ him and taking him with us to follow the parade around on the golf cart. Such a small act for us, but what an impact it made on Leonard. As we returned him to his daughter, he was laughing and smiling with excitement, and tears of joy were on his daughters face. Almost a year later, we did a show in Iowa. And who appeared in our tent, but this smiling older gentlemen and his family. It was our dear friend Leonard. We took to him like his was family to all of us. Everyone greeted him with a big hug. We introduced him to the local distributer, Fahr Beverage, and told them the story of how we met Leonard. They were so touched by him and his love for the horses. Leonard became our ‘honorary Clydesdale handler’ that week. We had a shirt embroidered with his name on it. He watched our parade, sat behind the tent with us. Talked, and laughed, and shared good times together. When the last day of our shows finally came to an end, 98 year old Leonard was not ready to leave. And frankly, we would have took him with us if his daughter would have let us! We took one last group picture. Leonard gave everyone hugs, long goodbye hugs, with tears in his eyes. He told us all that he loved us. He knew this was possibly the last time his would see his Budweiser family. It is with great sadness, and tears in my eyes, that I was informed of the passing of this great man. Making friends is our business, but touching someone’s heart so much that they become family, well, isn’t that what life’s all about? We will miss you dearly Leonard, you touched all of our hearts. Love Your Budweiser Clydesdale family

  2. When I was young my grandpa Bill and Leonard enjoyed attending WSR football and basketball games together. You would always find them in the back row so they could use wall as a backrest. Often times if there was a good away game not too far away one of them would talk the other into taking a little road trip. The best part is they usually let me tag along and sometimes even bring a friend along. Leonard and grandpa always referred to me and my other rowdy friends as ‘The Bleacher Creatures’. Win or lose it was always a good time. If we lost I usually got to listen to an interesting conversation about how ‘poorly officiated’ the game was! He will be missed! With Sympathy, Brant Jahnke

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about Leonard’s passing. I remember him from my childhood. He was the nicest guy. I remember him working with his brother, Elmer. Thinking of your family during this difficult time.

  4. Terry, Shawna, Haley & Shane Hillesheim lit a candle in memory of Leonard H. Graeser

  5. Leonard was a great guy. I remember him always coming to the fair to watch the chuckwagon races and he always stopped in the office to visit. He will be missed.

  6. Lenny lived an amazing life. He was a role model as a husband and father. We were lucky to have been touched by his spirit and devotion to family and country. We will love and miss you always, Andrea Van Keuren and Family Cory Laylin and Family Larry and Della Laylin

  7. I was honored by being able too take care of Leonard at Bartels. Such a kind Man .He appreciated everything. God has his angel ! Rest in Peace

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