Obituary: Jean Kathleen Leisy Sehnert (12/6/22)

Jean Kathleen Leisy Sehnert

January 17, 1929 – December 2, 2022

McCook, Neb. — Jean Kathleen Leisy Sehnert, 93, passed away at Hillcrest Nursing Home in McCook on December 2, 2022. Jean was born on January 17, 1929 in Wisner, Neb., to August J. and Irene (Arbuckle) Leisy. She grew up on the family farm south of Wisner. She graduated from the eighth grade of District 56 Country Schools, Wisner High School, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College, where she received a degree in music education.

The University of Nebraska was where Jean met her future husband, Walt Sehnert. The two were married on June 10, 1951, just south of Wisner at the Salem Mennonite Church built by Jean’s great-grandfather in 1885. After the wedding, the newlyweds headed to Fort Sill, Okla., where Walt was stationed before leaving for Korea. During Walt’s time abroad, Jean taught vocal music in Osmond, Neb., and Plainview, Neb. Upon Walt’s return from Korea, the couple settled in Plainview for four years, where Walt joined his father at Sehnert Bakery. In 1957, Walt, Jean, and their two daughters moved to McCook and opened Sehnert Bakery on Norris Avenue.

Jean proudly called McCook home for 65 years. She used her love and talent for the piano to give piano lessons to dozens of young people in the McCook area. A highlight for Jean was accompanying the many Broadway musicals presented by McCook High School and McCook Community College. She later accompanied shows organized by the Southwest Nebraska Community Theater Association. A special thrill was hers when she accompanied Music Man while her grandson, Gabe, played the role of Winthrop. Jean and Walt were also known for organizing local talent like the Heritage Singers to perform at nursing homes, club meetings, and even for performances at the historic Fox Theater. Jean was part of a two-piano quartet that included Carl Philo, Don Harpst and Sheryl Havens. This quartet performed at many events over the years. Jean also tried her hand at songwriting. She composed the music for a Chris Buethe poem called Nebraska. This song was performed at the Governor’s Ball in Lincoln in 2003. Jean was a member of Peace Lutheran Church in McCook, where she was an organist for 30 years and accompanied the choir. Music played a very important role in Jean’s life!

Travel was a priority for Jean and Walt. They made several trips to Europe where they visited the first Sehnert bakery in Erfurt, Germany. They toured in their motor home throughout North America. They later sailed to various places, including the Panama Canal, Alaska with their children and grandchildren, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. A favorite annual destination was Fort Robinson in Nebraska for musicals at the Post Playhouse.

Jean was preceded in death by her husband, Walt; parents, August and Irene Leisy; son-in-law, James Stuart, Jr.; grandchildren, Jacob and Elizabeth Messinger; and grandson-in-law, Thomas Van Klaveren.

Jean is survived by her sisters-in-law, Judy Sullivan of Aurora, Neb., and Loyce Leisy of Wisner; daughter, Susan Stuart of Lincoln; daughter, Marie (Duane) Franzen of Greeley, Colorado; son, Matt (Shelly) Sehnert of McCook; grandchildren, Rob Stuart, Carrie (Eric Peterson) Stuart, Megan Stuart, Sarah (Nick) Smith, Gretchen (Taylor) Dixon, Becca Sehnert and Gabe Sehnert; great-grandchildren, Oren Peterson, Andy and Ellie Smith, Ty Walter Dixon; additional grandchildren, Michelle, Brian, Trip, Suzy, Lee and their families; as well as family and friends from far and near.

Visitation will be Thursday, December 8, 2022, from 10 am to 7 pm, at McCook’s Herrmann-Jones Funeral Chapel. Family will greet friends from 5 to 7 pm

McCook Peace Lutheran Church was a second home for Jean. Her family will be available to greet friends at the church prior to the service, beginning at 12:30 pm on Friday, December 9, 2022.

Funeral services will follow, beginning at 2 pm on Friday afternoon, December 9, 2022, with Pastor Lonnie Felcher officiating. Burial will follow services at McCook Memorial Park Cemetery.

Services will be streamed live through the Peace Lutheran Church website for those unable to attend.

Memorials in Jean’s name to McCook’s Hillcrest Nursing Home Foundation, Community HealthCare and Hospice of McCook, or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are suggested. Online condolences can be left at Arrangements have been entrusted to Herrmann-Jones Funeral Chapel of McCook.

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