Larry Joe Ehlers passed away peacefully at his home on May 25, 2013, following a long illness. He was born on March 21, 1940, to Walter and Lucille (Heizer) Ehlers in Caldwell, Kansas. He was the third born of the family of four children. He attended Caldwell Schools, where he graduated in 1958. Upon graduation, he worked at various jobs on farms and service stations until he joined the local telephone company. During his time with the phone company, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Following basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was stationed at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey, where he was trained in weather observation and forecasting. His final year and a half of active duty was spent at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona serving as a weatherman for the Ft. Libby Army Air Field. Until his dying day, he thoroughly enjoyed watching the weather and keeping track of what was happening around the world. After completing two years of active duty service, he received an honorable discharge in June of 1965.
After his discharge, Joe returned to Caldwell and went back to work with the telephone company. On July 4, 1965, he married Mary Jeannette Buresh. To this union, two children were born. Jeffery Dale and Jolene Marie. His career in the telephone company led the family to move to Sterling, Kansas, Gallup, New Mexico, and Grandview, Texas. During these years away from Caldwell, Joe worked for Continental Telephone Company, and was the youngest supervisor the company had ever had. He was especially proud of the work he had completed in New Mexico with the design and construction of the first telephone system brought into the Navajo Indian Reservation.
As his career had progressed, he grew dissatisfied facing life sitting behind a desk and longed to get back to using his skills working with his hands. In 1972, he started the Make-R-Mend Shop, which he owned and operated in Caldwell until 1989. Initially, he intended this to be primarily an interior remodeling company, but as the business evolved and needs in the community were realized, it became more service oriented and he helped many in the Caldwell area with plumbing, locksmithing, electrical, HVAC and other building and remodeling needs. It seemed if it needed to be fixed, Joe was called on day or night. He was an avid student and completed many correspondence courses over the years as he was not afraid to take on new challenges and learn how to work on things that he had never tackled before.
Joe then worked for the City of Caldwell, supervising the street and water department for two years followed by accepting a position with Builder’s Square in Wichita, designing kitchens in 1991. In Caldwell, Joe was active in the First Presbyterian Church where he held many offices of leadership throughout the years. In 1994, Joe and Jeannette fulfilled a dream they’d had all of their married life and moved to Nixa, Missouri. (She passed away in 1995.) He finished out his career designing kitchen at the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Springfield, Missouri, where he earned many “gold star” awards for customer satisfaction and retired in 2002.
On June 21, 2000, he married Barbara Hough of Marshfield, Missouri. They purchased a new home in rural Marshfield, where they loved to fish, watch the birds, and just enjoy the beautiful nature around them. Many hours were spent feeding the fish in their stocked pond, refilling bird feeders, planting and tending flower beds, watching ducks and geese nest around the pond, and just enjoying time with nature all around them. Joe was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Marshfield, Missouri, a member of the Webster County American Legion Post # 142, and was an active member of the Webster County Missouri Military Honor Guard for as long as his health allowed. Joe will always be remembered for his undeniable work ethic, creative problem solving abilities, ability to fix just about anything and most of all – his sense of humor that remained intact to the end.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brother William Milton (Bill), brother-in-law Richard King, and his wife, Jeannette. He is survived by his wife of the home, Barbara, his son, Jeff (Diane) of Sherwood, Arkansas, daughter, Jolene (Jim) of Zambia, Africa, stepson Sanford (Tammy) Hough of Fort Worth, Texas, stepdaughter Tanya (Tim) Newkirk of Atchison, Kansas, 5 grandchildren, 10 step-grandchildren, and 1 step-great-granddaughter, sister Lori King of Charlotte, Michigan, brother Eddie (Claudia) Ehlers of Caldwell, sister-in-law Diana Ehlers of Medford, Oklahoma, sister-in-law Linda (Jess) Newkirk of Columbia, Missouri, brother-in-law James Allen (Vonette) Buresh of North Richland Hills, Texas, and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Memorial services with full military honors will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday, May 30, 2013 in the Marshfield United Methodist Church, under the direction of Fraker Funeral Home, Marshfield. Internment will be Friday, May 31, 2013 in the Czech Cemetery, Caldwell, Kansas.
In lieu of flowers, Joe requested that memorial contributions be made in his memory to any of the following:
Marshfield United Methodist Church
220 S Elm Street
Marshfield MO, 65706
American Lung Association
1118 Hampton Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63139
Caldwell Czechoslovakian Cemetery
c/o Schaeffer Mortuary
6. N. Main
Caldwell, Kansas 67022