Stanley “Jim” James Leif was born on September 19, 1934, son of Frank George and Augusta Helen (DeBoer) Leif of Waco, NE. Jim passed away on November 3, 2021 after a long battle of sepsis and heart failure. Jim was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick's Church in Utica, NE. Jim was the youngest of 9 children. Jim graduated from Utica High School in 1952. Before Jim was drafted in 1956, Jim worked on the Leif family farm southwest of Utica. Jim served as a clerk in the US Army from 1956 to 1958. Jim was stationed at Fort Benning, GA when he met the love of his life, Ernestine Cox, at a dance. Jim and Ernestine were united in marriage on August 30, 1958 at St. Patrick's Church in Phenix City, AL. Jim and Ernestine were blessed with 5 children. They celebrated 63 years of marriage in August 2021.
Jim and Ernestine raised their 5 children on the family farm, in which they purchased from Jim's mother in 1970. Jim was very proud of his homestead and took great pride being a farmer and rancher. His children fondly remember their Dad teaching them the ropes of the farm and livestock care. They found simple and special moments with their Dad like bringing lunch to the field, riding along on the combine or tractor, saddling up their pony named “Baby Doll” and family time on Sundays after church. Jim’s children remember stopping by the Dixon Drug store after church to pick out a special treat and to get their Dad the Sunday paper. Also, after church they either got treated to dinner at the Flying “V” or their Mom had roast and potatoes in the oven. After Sunday dinners, the dining room table was moved out of the way and they all danced to the Big Joe Polka Show. Jim and Ernestine were beautiful ballroom dancers and traveled around locally to dance. Jim said it was his sisters that taught him how to dance. Jim and Ernestine had one last dance together at their 60th wedding anniversary party.
Jim worked briefly at Walker's Manufacturing while the family farm was struggling. Jim was once the President of the Utica Jaycees and member of the Utica’s American Legion Post 49. Jim and his wife also received the honor of Booster Club Fans of the Year. Jim enjoyed coaching baseball when the kids were little, dancing with his wife, attending his children’s and grandchildren's events, family reunions, Husker Harvest Days, and watching sports. The Leif Family Reunion started back in 1978. The Leif reunion has continued over the years and recently was in Lincoln, NE in July 2021. Jim's nieces and nephews from all over the US were able to visit him in Lincoln during the reunion. Jim took great pride of his 1949 Chevy Fleetline Deluxe, once his parent’s only new car, and later restored by Jim. Jim was more than happy to drive his Chevy in local parades. Jim also enjoyed mowing his yard. His children and grandchildren remember lawn mower and four-wheeler rides with him. His grandchildren also remember sleigh rides behind the four-wheelers. For many years, Jim and Ernestine had a family friend dress up as Santa Claus. Jim would take the children for a drive to look for reindeer and sleigh prints. While at home, Santa placed the presents under the tree and the children were able to catch Santa delivering their presents. Jim was a big fan of Husker football, volleyball and basketball. You could always find him wearing his Husker hat in his later years. His children will always remember him saying, “Get home safely and call me when you get home, no matter the time.”
Jim is survived by his wife, Ernestine, and his children; Donna Leif (Donn Fuller) of Fort Worth, TX, Barry Leif of Lincoln, Mitchell Leif (Dee Magill) of Utica, Teresa Casteneda of Utica, and Lisa Davis (Marty) of Lincoln. Grandchildren; Sasha Vrbka of Fort Worth, TX, Derek Leif of Omaha, Miranda Leif of Lincoln, Brittany Leif of Lincoln, Ryan Leif of Omaha, Cassidy Leif of Lincoln, Morgan Leif of Omaha, Allie Davis of Lincoln and Kyler Casteneda of Utica. Great grandchildren; Ellarie Smith of Omaha and Cole Eldridge of Fort Worth, TX.
His parents, 8 siblings and 6 spouses preceded Jim in death. Frank and Augusta Leif (parents), Evelyn (sister) and Maurice Justice, Mary "Marie" (sister) and George Doomany, Morris Leif (brother,) Jeanette Leif (sister), Francis "Whitey" (brother) and Anna "Annie" Leif, Marjorie (sister) and George Lynch, Doris (sister) and Jim Camp, Betty (sister) and Dale Treu. Also, his niece, Patricia Doomany and nephew, Gary Lynch.
CASKET BEARERS - David Camp, Tom Dumpert, Merle Leif, Gerald Lynch, Mark Treu, Derek Leif, Ryan Leif, Kyler Casteneda
HONORARY CASKET BEARERS - Larry Cradick, Doug Dittmar, Arlin Stuhr, Gary Lynch, grandchildren, nieces and nephews
FULL MILITARY HONORS UTICA AMERICAN LEGION POST #49
MEMORIALS IN CARE OF LEIF FAMILY.
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