Byrel Leifheit, age 88, of Sugar Grove, passed away at her home surrounded by the love and prayers of her family on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.
She was born Aug. 13, 1922, in West Branch, Mich., the last of 10 children born to William and Cora Mae (Slosser) Killinger.
Byrel grew up in West Branch and attended local schools. She graduated from West Branch High School with the class of 1939.
While she was still in high school, Byrel met a young man, Arnold Leifheit, who would come into town on weekends while working in the Civilian Conservation Corps near West Branch. After his time with the C.C.C.’s, Arnold returned to his home in Yorkville and eventually entered the United States Army early in WWII. For five years, the two exchanged letters but never saw each other until Arnie’s proposal of marriage prompted Byrel to leave her job and home, and travel alone to Camp Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., to begin 68 years of married life together on Sept. 18, 1942.
When Arnie was deployed to Europe near the end of the war, Byrel lived in Hinckley with Arnie’s sister, Ruth and Burton Wielert and their family, whom she had yet to meet. It wasn’t long before Byrel became a dear member of her new family. Upon Arnie’s return to civilian life, they made a home above a service station they operated in Yorkville. In 1955, an opportunity to own and operate a station up the road on Route 47 brought them to live and work in Sugar Grove.
Byrel worked for Michigan Bell Telephone before she was married. When she and Arnold moved to Sugar Grove, her full-time job became caring for the community through her caretaking of the aptly named Sugar Grove Community House, until her retirement in 1985.
Byrel was a life member of the American Legion Auxiliary in Sugar Grove. She also was a member of the National Button Society and a long-time member of the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church.
In earlier years, Byrel enjoyed bowling and fishing; later it was sports with Arnold and time with her grandchildren. When she wasn’t busy making her house a home, Byrel kept her hands busy, sewing and crocheting many afghans that were enjoyed by family and friends. In recent years, she collected buttons and worked at collating Sugar Grove news for years, becoming fast friends with the good people at the Kendall County Record. She, along with Arnie, also received the distinction of being named Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year in 2004.
She is survived by her husband, Arnold; one son, David (Billie) Leifheit of Batavia; one son-in-law, Daren (Lori) Haring of Elburn; five grandchildren, Jason Leifheit of Alaska, Amanda (Steven) Reckinger of Elburn, Tyler Haring of Cornell, Mich., Emily Haring and Meredith Haring, both of Elburn; six step-grandchildren, Roy Gustafson of Sugar Grove, Jeff Pini of Elgin, Kyle Pini of Plainfield, Ill., Steven Pini of Yorkville, Kristen Sivak of Boston and Kelly Sivak of Elburn; four great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and a true community of friends.
She is preceded in death by one daughter, Donna L. Haring, her parents and nine siblings.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14, at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church. A funeral service to celebrate her life, also at the church, will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15. Rev. Steve Good, pastor of the church, will officiate with interment to follow at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Byrel Leifheit Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or at www.conleycare.com.