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Pike Press
Pike Press
Contributed by watersb

Description: Obituary of Lehr, John the Baptist Joseph

Date: May 20 2009

Newspaper published in: Pittsfield

Page/Column: A6 / 1

John the Baptist Joseph Lehr, 80, of Hull, died May 10, 2009 after his third struggle with cancer. While in the hospital Mr. Lehr was cared for by the wonderful staff of the Skilled Nursing Unit and 5th floor of Blessing Hospital in Quincy and his children. For the past four years John had been excellently cared for by Pike County Home Health Services staff and friend, Trish Lane, of Hull.
Mr. Lehr was born Feb. 4, 1929, in the Bronx, N.Y. to Gerard B. and Elizabeth "Bessie" Marie Fitzgerald Lehr.
A native of Scarsdale, N.Y., John took a cross country trip following his senior year in high school, and decided to attend college at Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College in Kirksville, Mo., {now known as Truman State University.} He met his true love, Mary Lou Bomgardner in chemistry class... and what chemistry it was! They were married May 26, 1949 at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in Kirksville. Following employment in Kansas, Iowa and New York, they settled in Kinderhook and Hull, to raise their family with "Midwestern" values. She preceded him in death Aug. 30, 2003.
Always known by his students as "Mr. Lehr", John began his teaching career at West Pike High School of Kinderhook, in 1954-where he continued to educate children in science and industrial arts for the next 33 years. He drove the school bus for the district for the 49 years, stopping only when he began to lose his eyesight. He was especially proud of teaching "I Can" classes at WPHS.
John was a Boy Scout leader for more than 25 years for Troop 61. He thoroughly enjoyed training boys to become young men and great outdoorsmen during camping trips and at Saukenauk Scout Camp.
Mr. Lehr was an inventor at heart. Not a day went by that John didn't ponder a way to solve a problem out of necessity or just for fun. He passed on his creative problem solving imagination to his students, scouts and children. Many evenings you could find John working at school as class sponsor, PTA member, set construction for school plays, general handy man at school events or leading cheers at sporting events.
John was a member of Pike County Teacher's Association throughout his teaching career and served as President. He was an active member of the Pike County Emergency Corp and volunteer Hull Fire Department, performed in community plays and singing with his family at cancer fundraisers. During summers John created beautiful handmade cabinets and did home and office repairs for many Pike County citizens.
John was a member of the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Barry until the Flood of 93 when he and his wife moved to Quincy to live with Terri for five years. Mr. Lehr helped build the church and care for it over the many years he was a member. Teaching religion classes for high schoolers and making the mashed potatoes at church dinners with friend, Dick Davis of Kinderhook, were jobs of which he was most fond.
Mr. Lehr served as Village President of Hull for eight years which included leading the town and his family through the recovery of the Flood of '93. John always loved the people of Pike County and his many students. In his last years he was fortunate to be able to attend several 50 year reunions of his students where he relished the accomplishments of "his kids" and mourned the losses of those who passed before him.
John was an avid listener of Talking Books and radio... KMOX and 105.1... He regularly called master gardener Jerry Baker and KMOX political talk shows. His last creative endeavor was fulfilling a lifelong hobby of beekeeping which his children continue.
Surviving are his children and grandchildren; Patricia Anne (Pat) of Kirksville, Mo., Teresa Marie (Terri) of Hull, John Steven, Kathy and Kelsey Lehr of Pittsfield, Carl David, Kristi, Gabriel, and Grayson Lehr and Olivia and Victoria Cook of Maryland, Maryellen Lehr-Donley and Lyle Donley and their children, John Henry and Rollie Michael of Hull, IL and brother-in-law, Frank Foran of Garden City, N.Y. and numerous nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, one sister; Elizabeth "Betty" Marie Foran and one son; Michael Gerard Lehr

Submitted: 05/22/09

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