Lewis A. Whitehead was born in a stormy, blizzard on January 5, 1925 to Henry and Louise (Gasper) Whitehead at their Fish Creek Ridge farm. Anna Erlandson braved blizzard conditions and giant snow drifts with horse and buggy to act as midwife for his delivery. Lewis left us on a stormy evening February 24, 2018, peacefully journeying with the Lord to his heavenly reward. Lewis met and married the love of his life, Evelyn Rueckheim in May 1948. They farmed on Fish Creek Ridge until 1963, and then purchased their farm in Farmers Valley near Sparta. Lewis was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Lewis and Evelyn were dedicated to raising their family of 7 children with Christian values as active members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Blood, sweat and tears brought Lewis health, enjoyment and pride in his accomplishments with the help of his family working beside him to provide for his family in a loving way. At 89 he would still disappear to the farm and load up the gator with the family dogs to check and mend fence. He took pride in his Guernsey herd and high grade milk production and records. He served as president of the Monroe County Guernsey Breeders. He hosted the Guernsey twilight meeting at his farm. He expressed how VERY proud he was of his sons helping him build Richland Sheds just a week ago. Lewis also rescued and saved the lives of two you men from a burning car. He would do anything to help anyone.
His classic farmer’s hands were muscular bear paws that were admired by many for his strength and hard work. He loved to play five handed 500, Pinochle, Michigan Rummy and numerous different games of Solitary. He was very skilled at Sudoku, Encryption and Cross Word puzzles. He loved Sunday family fishing trips on Lake Neshonoc in the big boat named “The Barge”. Sunday drives looking at crops were his idea of a great trip. He enjoyed solo trips on his 350 Honda Motorcycle viewing farms. He loved his Polka music and drove many miles to enjoy a Polka Mass and church dinner.
Lewis is survived by 6 of his 7 children: Larry (Pauline Januesheske) and their children, Brigitte Steinhoff (Tony) and Matthew Whitehead (Kaycee Tainter); Eileen (Richard Eggen); Wayne (Sue Stark); Kevin Whitehead; Cheryl (deceased) (Thomas Johnson) and their children, Diane (Lance Olson), Allen Johnson (Amanda Futch), Brent Johnson and Emilia Johnson; Brian (Elizabeth Trombley) and their children, Kathryn (Jered Brueggen), Nathan and Megan; and Loren (Roxanne Schrader) and their children, Noah and Casey. He is further survived by his great-grandchildren: Jack, Ellie and Charlie Steinhoff; Weston and Vanessa Whitehead; Henry, Leo, William and Lucy Olson; Rose, Clara and Sophia Johnson; and Kamron Rouse; and many nieces and nephews.
He was heartbroken when his beloved wife of 63 years, Evelyn, died in June 2011 and never got over losing his daughter, Cheryl Johnson, five years earlier. His mother, Louise, died when he was two years old and his father, Henry, died when he was 16. Despite this and no electricity, he and the siblings kept the farm going and all managed to complete high school. His deceased brothers and sisters were, Leo Whitehead, Leona Strom, Clara Hanson, William Whitehead, Kathryn Bernhardt, Joyce Rushing, and Glenn Whitehead.
Lewis was a very social person who had a huge love for sharing a good story. He will be missed beyond words but will await us in Heaven with his beloved Lord and his extended family.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 2, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sparta, with Father Keith Kitzhaber officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery.
Visitation for Lewis will be held on Thursday, from 4-7 p.m. at the Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, with a Recitation of the Rosary at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue on Friday at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of services. Online condolences may be offered to Lewis’ family at www.schanhfoerfh.com.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to the nurses and CNA’s at Rolling Hills Nursing Home for the special care given to Lewis.
The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.