On Sunday, March 27, 2022, Richard Lettner died in his sleep with dignity and grace, in the home of a family member. This was his 93rd birthday.
The second oldest of the six children born of Herbert and Margaret (Crawford) Lettner, Richard Herbert Lettner was born March 27th, 1929, at the family's farm in Irish Valley, Waumandee, Wisconsin.
Richard Lettner became the husband of Averleen Ann Stellpflug on May 23, 1959, at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Trempealeau. Six children were born into this family: John (Lauri), Bruce (Nancy), Mark, Mary, Erick (Ellisa), and Monica. Richard and Averleen later divorced, having their marriage annulled in 1989.
Richard is survived by his six children; 15 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren. Richard is further survived by his siblings: Mary Lou (Joseph) Paurazas and Carol (Raymond) Krizmanic; and several nieces and nephews.
Preceding him in death are his parents; Herbert and Margaret (Crawford) Lettner; and siblings: Joyce (Daniel) Robertson, Robert (Phyllis) Lettner, and Jean Lettner. Also preceded by his infant daughter, Mary Margaret.
After finishing 8th grade in the Centerville school house, Richard began working full-time on the family farm north of the school off of County F just down Whistle Pass Road. He graduated from Short Course in Madison in 1948.
Richard joined the Army during the Korean War and became a Sergeant in just 18 months. He was stationed in Germany and after only 4 months he became his group’s translator. He learned to speak German while on maneuvers in the country through interacting with German farmers and families. He also became a paratrooper (Airborne) and volunteered to be part of a new group called the “Special Forces” which later was named the “Green Beret”. Richard always kept a picture of the farm with him and longed to get back there.
Once getting back in Wisconsin, Richard’s farming proved fruitful and innovative with registered Holsteins, equipment shipped over from Germany (which were some of the first in the US), and a gravity flow manure system which baffled the regulatory boards.
Beginning in the late 60’s he partnered with Farm Bureau to begin receiving foreign trainees. Over the next 40 years there were 65 trainees and workers on the farm from about 20 countries. Many became family and have stayed in touch all these years later.
He also loved to travel and has visited over 20 countries. Some of these trips were fun and vacation but most were trips to share his years of farming wisdom and help farmers in other countries. In New Zealand, at age 73, he bungee jumped off a pipeline which was the world’s highest bungee at the time.
Richard served on many boards throughout his life: G-E-T school board, Farm Bureau, and Select Sires and desired to make a difference with positive change.
He always enjoyed classical music. He knew the Von Trapp family personally (the Sound of Music) and was a pen pal with their youngest daughter for almost 60 years. He also enjoyed reading and writing to pen pals across the world.
In 1976 Richard took his family to the Olympics in Montreal, Canada where they saw Bruce Jenner win the decathlon and Nadia Comaneci earn the first perfect 10 ever in gymnastics. It was an amazing summer trip for the family.
Richard was a man of Christian faith. Though nowhere near perfect, he remained a faithful Catholic man only missing a handful of masses in his lifetime until old age prevented him from going in person, but was still able to participate online.
He was known as Richard, Dick, Bud, Son, Brother, Husband, Dad, Uncle, and Grandpa. He loved his family and friends and loved telling stories. He always had a twinkle in his eye and smile on his face and was glad to see you. He loved his farm, his family and his faith.
Visitation will be held at St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church in Trempealeau, Wisconsin on Saturday, April 2, 2022 from 9:30- 11:00 a.m., followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m. Burial with Military Honors presented by Towner-Littlebear-Arnold VFW Post #1915 will be immediately following Mass in Holy Cross Cemetery, Trempealeau. To express condolences to his family online, please visit www.wozneykillianfh.com