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1928 Leo 2021

Leo A. Rau

December 9, 1928 — April 19, 2021

Leo was born to Lidwina (Eisterhold) and Gilbert Rau on December 9, 1928 at home on the family farm outside of Westphalia. He was the 4th in a sibling strip of 15 (4 boys and 11 girls). He attended country school and St. Boniface Catholic school in Westphalia and graduated in 1947 from St. Mary’s Catholic School in Portsmouth. He grew up during the depression but always told his children that even with a family of 15, they were never poor because they lived on a farm. He was appreciative of being able to eat oatmeal on Sundays as things got better!

After graduation, he worked locally for a few years before taking off with a friend on a grand adventure, including seeing the states, working along the way, and keeping that old Model T running!

He was drafted into the army on March 22nd, 1951. He served in Korea until December 22, 1952 at the height of the Korean war. He lost close friends during this time but was also blessed with new lifelong friends. He was honorably discharged on April 8th 1957 after serving in the Reserves for another five years.

On a blind date in the spring of 1955, Leo met Darlene VonTersch. They were married October 22nd, 1956 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Defiance, Iowa. They were blessed with five children in 7 years, only to be blessed with one more 14 years later. They began their marriage in Marysville, Kansas while Leo was working out of the Union Pacific Railroad depot. From there, he was relocated to Columbus, Nebraska, before settling in Omaha. Leo wondered if he was jinxed, but he worked there until his retirement in 1986 after 32 years. He developed a reputation as being willing to climb anything.

After nearly 34 years of marriage, Leo lost Darlene suddenly. But God continued to bless him and brought him Jane Henscheid. They were married April 13th, 1991. She was truly a gift to Leo and his children. She stayed by his side until his death.

Leo appreciated his opportunity to see lands overseas during the war, but really enjoyed his other trips. He traveled to Germany twice to feed his passion for ancestral research. He thrived on knowing where he was from and getting to know long lost relatives. He was also lucky enough to make a trip to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain and to Rome, spurred by his strong Catholic faith.

Leo had many hobbies. He was a long-time member of the Nut Growers and Beekeepers. He spent years planting and grafting nut trees. His particular favorite was black walnut trees, which is why he had his casket made of it. To the day he died his favorite meal was oatmeal with raisins, honey, and black walnuts! Much of the trees were at his “farm”; that 2 ½ acres he had in Iowa where he gardened, grafted trees, and generally enjoyed nature (and where his children loved camping😊).

Leo passed peacefully at home surrounded by family, having achieved the age of 92 years, 4 months, and 10 days. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Darlene; siblings Dorothy Gaul, Marie (Mamie) Grote, Michael (Mike), Zita Bruck, Alma Bissen, Leonard Rau, Jeanette Mikels, Lita Rau; numerous brothers and sister-in-law, nieces, and nephews. He is survived by wife, Jane; children Kathleen (David) Klein, Jacqueline (Lyle) Simmons, Janet (David) Schonder, Laura Webb, John (Josie Lynn Navarro), Kevin (Regina Lenz); 17 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren. Siblings Martha (Paul) Bissen, Verla Mumm, Mervin (Nels) Nelson, Patricia Kuether, Gilbert Jr. (Mary Anne) Rau, Judy (Richard) Jones.

SERVICE: Friday, April 23, 10:30am at St. James Catholic Church.

Interment, Calvary Cemetery.

VISITATION begins at St. James Catholic Church Thursday, April 22, at 4:30pm with a

Wake Service at 7pm.


1010 North 72 Street 402-391-1664

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, April 22, 2021

4:30 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Wake Service

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Starts at 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, April 23, 2021

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

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Calvary Catholic Cemetery- Omaha

7710 West Center Road, Omaha, NE 68124

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