Arnold “Arnie” F. Leifheit, 94, of Sugar Grove, passed from this life to eternal life on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, at his son’s home in Batavia, surrounded by the love of his family.
Arnold was born on Oct. 13, 1917, in Yorkville, Ill., the son of Frederick and Louise (Henne) Leifheit.
Arnold grew up in Yorkville and attended local schools.
Arnold took the next step in his storied life by working in the Civilian Conservation Corps near West Branch, Mich. He would go into West Branch on weekends, where a young lady by the name of Byrel Killinger caught his eye. Nevertheless, Arnie made his way back to Yorkville, but neither of them could deny that a spark was ignited. Five years of love letters ensued before Arnie’s proposal of marriage prompted Byrel to leave her job and home, and travel alone to Camp Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he was then stationed after his enlistment in the United States Army. Sixty-eight love-filled years began on Sept. 18, 1942. Arnie continued to serve his country until his honorable discharge on Dec. 9, 1945.
Arnie and Byrel made their first home in Colorado Springs. Later they were transferred to Durham, N.C., where Arnie helped to train the troops. Life was put on hold when Arnie was deployed to Europe near the end of World War II. Upon his 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.
Arnie worked in the fields and as a carpenter before going into the Army. When Arnie returned from the Army, he opened Leifheit Service Station in Yorkville from 1945 to 1948. He then owned and operated Horton & Leifheit trucking from 1948 to 1954 before taking over the Sugar Grove gas station and restaurant. In 1959, Arnie began working for Caterpillar Tractor, where he spent the next 20 years before retiring in 1979. Even in retirement, Arnie never stopped working, but kept busy by opening Leifheit Sharpening, which was operated out of his home, with his son.
Arnie was a Life Member of the Sugar Grove American Legion and VFW in Montgomery.
Arnie never met a stranger, and no one could find a better friend. He was your all-around sports fan. You often would find him enjoying his Chicago Bears or Chicago Bulls, but the one sport he enjoyed more than any was baseball. In Arnie’s eyes, there was no better team than his beloved Chicago Cubs. As a young man, you could find Arnie on a local baseball field, often times playing two games at once. In his later years he shared his love for the game with younger generations by volunteering his time with local Little League teams.
The outdoors also called to him. Hunting and fishing were pastimes that brought him not only to local hunting grounds but back to West Branch, on and around Cranberry Lake.
Arnie also made a name for himself on local bowling and horseshoe leagues for many years, but when it came to cards, he was nearly unbeatable. By the time the cards were dealt, he already had you beat—you just didn t know it yet.
Arnie had a heart that beat only for Byrel, and together they were the ultimate team. Her passing separated them for little over a year, but nothing could keep them apart. They are now finally reunited, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Arnold is survived by one son, David (Billie) Leifheit of Batavia; one son-in-law, Daren (Lori) Haring of Elburn; five grandchildren, Jason Leifheit of Arkansas, Amanda (Steve) Reckinger of Elburn, Tyler Haring of Michigan, and Emily Haring and Meredith Haring of Elburn; six step-grandchildren, Roy Gustafson of Sugar Grove, Jeff Pini of Elgin, Ill., Kyle (Alton) Pini of Plainfield, Ill., Steven Pini of Yorkville, Ill., Kristin Sivak of Toronto, Ontario, and Kelly Sivak of Elburn; seven great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and a true community of friends.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Byrel, who passed away in January 2011; one daughter, Donna L. Haring; and his parents.
Visitation was held on Sunday, Feb. 19, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St. in Elburn. A service to celebrate his life was held on Monday, Feb. 20, at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, 176 Main St., Sugar Grove. Rev. Steve Good, pastor of the church, officiated. Interment followed at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit his favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Arnold Leifheit Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com.