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Welcome to the memorial page for

James William Lehner, Sr.

December 24, 1922 ~ September 3, 2017 (age 94)

James William Lehner Sr.

December 24, 1922 – September 3, 2017

James “Jim” W. Lehner, 94, entered peacefully into eternal rest surrounded by his family on September 3, 2017 at the Catherine Kasper Life Center in Donaldson, Indiana.

The youngest of eight children, he was born on December 24, 1922, to Frank and Kathryn (Arnold) Lehner in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

On February 26, 1949, Jim married Harriet M. Keenan at Sacred Heart Church, Nekoosa, Wisconsin.  She preceded him in death in 2009, a few months after celebrating 60 years of marriage.

A natural athlete, Jim graduated from Alexander High School in Nekoosa where he enjoyed academics and playing sports.  Shortly after graduation, he enlisted and proudly served his country in the United State Navy during World War II as an aircraft machinist mate working on Stearman and Corsair aircraft.  On December 14, 1945, he separated from the military after being stationed on Saipan Island and returned to Nekoosa.  Upon his return, he began and completed a four-year apprenticeship as a wood master patternmaker under the guidance of his brother Bernard.  Jim became a master craftsman of this important trade, building industrial patterns for over 50 years.  In 1953, he accepted employment with Conrad Pattern Corporation, LaPorte, Indiana, where he worked for 19 years while raising his family.  He opened his own business, Lehner Pattern Corporation in 1980.  He used to joke that if he didn’t like the boss all he had to do was to look in the mirror and tell him so.

Jim was an inspiration in many ways to his family and friends.  He enjoyed helping others whenever he could.  Blessed with a quick wit, a funny sense of humor and an adventurous spirit, Jim was always involved in new hobbies and activities that included golfing, reading, gardening, tropical fish, airplane restoration, radio controlled airplanes, swimming, sailing, snow skiing, winemaking, cooking, clock building, traveling, bridge playing, LaPorte slicer sports and Green Bay Packers.  He was an enthusiastic fan of his children eagerly attending sporting events, music recitals, business ventures, 4H and band concerts.  He supported and encouraged each of them to develop their unique interests and talents.

He was honored to receive the Volunteer of the Year Award of the LaPorte YMCA where he was a member for over 50 years.  His past associations and memberships included LaPorte Aero Club, Knights of Columbus #1542, American Legion Post 83, VFW Post 1130, LaPorte Rotary Club, American Legion Honor Guard, Pattern Makers Union, and Beacon Hills Golf Course board of directors.

He enjoyed spending his final year at the Catherine Kasper Life Center in Donaldson, Indiana where he soon became a favorite to many of the residents and staff.  He loved the beautiful setting with its lakes and gardens and was able to attend daily Mass.  Before moving to Donaldson, he lived at Brentwood Manor in LaPorte for seven years where he continued many of the longtime friendships he has made while raising his family in LaPorte.

Jim and his wife Harriet were faithful members of St. Joseph Catholic Church, LaPorte for over 65 years.  He served as an usher and eucharistic minister.  His faith was central in his life and he never missed attending Mass.  He would remark that if you can’t give God one hour a week something is wrong.  It was important to him that his children receive good educations beginning with parochial school and continuing through college.

Jim was a proud, loving, dedicated and beloved father to his six children who survive him.  They include, James W. (Dale) Lehner Jr., Battle Creek, Michigan, Ann Marie (Doug) Norman, Greeley, Colorado, Cynthia J. Dixon, Hanna, Indiana, Jeffry K. (Sandra) Lehner, The Woodlands, Texas, Rebecca (John F.) Ellis, Sedona, Arizona and LtCol (ret) Christopher E. (Helen) Lehner, Camas, Washington.  He cherished and felt blessed to be a grandfather to his thirteen grandchildren.  They include, Luke Lehner, Lori Lehner, Sean (Nora) Norman, Noah (Megan) Norman, Joel Norman, Maria (Lehner) (Marc Andre) Otto, Michael J. Lehner, Jessica (Ben) Ellis Maier, John Ellis Jr., Evan (Carly) Lehner, Alison Lehner, Bennett Lehner and Caroline Lehner; two great-grandchildren, Tierney M. Norman and Cillian S. Norman.  He is also survived by many nieces and nephews, including Dean Rolzin of Colorado.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Frank, Bernard and Leon Lehner; four sisters, Josephine Billings, Kathryn Lehner, Marie Rolzin and Charlotte Korbol. 

Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., Monday, October 23, 2017, at Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel, 1117 Indiana Avenue, LaPorte, Indiana.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., Monday, October 23, 2017, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 109 C Street, LaPorte, Indiana, 46350.  Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery with military honors.

Memorial Contributions may be made to Catherine Kasper Life Center, 9601 Union Street, Donaldson, Indiana, 46513 or St. Joseph Catholic Church, 109 C Street, LaPorte, Indiana, 46350 or the VFW, 181 W. McClung Road, LaPorte, Indiana 46350.

Please share prayers, condolences, and memories with the family at Essling Funeral


 Service Information

October 23, 2017

9:00 AM to 10:45 AM
Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Inc, Essling Chapel
1117 Indiana Avenue
La Porte, IN 46350

Mass of Christian Burial
October 23, 2017

11:00 AM
St. Joseph Catholic Church
109 C Street
LaPorte, IN 46350

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