Leora Mae Messersmith, 83, of Farnam, Nebraska, died January 31, 2021 at the Elwood Care Center.
She was born September 6, 1937 in North Platte, NE, daughter of Mike and Sylvia Knoll. She attended rural school at the Knoll family ranch early on and then attended school just south of the family ranch on the "Booze place". She attended high school at Nebraska School of Agriculture in Curtis, graduating in 1954. She was united in marriage to Garold "Keith" Messersmith on August 11, 1954 in Tryon, NE. While her husband served in the service they were stationed in Fort Leonard Wood, MO for basic training then they moved to Corpus Christi, TX for two years, finally moving back to the farm south of Farnam, NE. She lived there until June 2018, moving to Senior Living Choices in Curtis, and then to Elwood Care Center.
Lea loved spending time with the love of her life, Keith, whom she meant on a blind date. She loved to fuss over him, they were a pair of love bugs who cared deeply for each other. She was Dad's right hand, his best friend, and they were married 64 years. Her life revolved around her family, her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids, and they fondly called her, "Grandma Lea" and "Gram."
Mom was always up before everyone else each morning. She would go outside and start the chores. Every summer Mom would get around 400 chickens. She would raise the broilers, butcher them, and sell them to make extra money. As kids, we wanted to "help" and she would patiently give each of us a chicken to pluck, but she had to finish the butchering process on her own. Even though she was quick, she spent many hours hunkered over the sink finishing those chickens. Everyone knew she made the best fried chicken, served with her chicken gravy and mashed potatoes. In those days, Mom served fresh fried chicken everyday all summer, and her family never got tired of it. She also was notorious for making her chocolate lard cake with her chocolate cooked frosting. It was so delicious, her children would take pieces and hide the cake to make sure they got their share (this even happened when her kids became adults.)
Mom had a special relationship with animals. They had an understanding and intuitive respect for each other. She would hand milk several cows, morning and night, and could milk them faster than anyone. We always wondered why Mom could milk the cows so fast, but we realized while she was a very skilled milker, the cows actually felt relaxed and wanted to cooperate with her. She would take their milk, collect the cream, and make butter and delicious home made cottage cheese.
She had a love for angus cattle, and everyone agreed no one knew cattle like she did. When it came to sorting at branding time she was an essential piece of the operation. Her talents came from the heart. Even in her seventies, she had an eye, and was the best at picking out cows that were dry. She paired mama cows and calves methodically, and remembered tag numbers better than anyone. Everyone would just stand back and let Gram go, she had such a commanding presence. She was "on duty" for years, taking a shift during the night to get up and go check heifers. She was also Dad's partner when it came time to tag calves. She would catch the calves, hold them until Dad got there and then assist in ear tagging and vaccinating a calf. She had to be the bucket calf "Queen" because she hand fed so many orphan calves giving them their very best start. She loved going with Dad to the Connealy and Baldridge Bull sales. She kept up with the sale, helping Dad to know which bull was actually selling. They both took pride in working hard to improve their Angus herd. She was involved with everything on the farm, just the same as the guys. She had a special talent in sorting and working with the cattle, and raised countless bucket calves. She loved discing in her John Deere tractor, and running the grain cart at harvest. She threw her heart into everything she did at the highest level. She deserves a lot of credit for the success of the family farm.
She took special pride in growing a perfect lawn, and growing many different kinds of flowers, and shrubs. She spent countless hours digging and hand weeding to make it all look just right. She spent hours on her own John Deere lawn mower, but she would always stop to take the grandkids for a ride around the yard. Sometimes we would spot her with bloody arms, and fingers, finding out that she had taken on pruning the rose bushes.
Christmas time was a very special time for Mom. She took over a month to decorate the house in fascinating ways, and come Christmas eve, everyone made plans to be at Mom and Dad's house. The house would be filled with excitement and fun! Anyone new that happened to come to this gathering would be surprised how loud this event was because of the all adult conversations, and kids having a blast playing with their cousins. She would spoil the grand kids by crochet each of them an afghan and she made each of them a tied quilt. She would serve her outstanding chicken noodle soup, oyster soup, peanut clusters, several kinds of pies, and her famous egg nog. Mom flit around serving everyone and making sure everyone had plenty to eat. She was always the last to sit down.
Mom was such a giver, she was the glue of our family. She is our hero, mere words cannot describe the depth of her caring, the warmth and understanding of this kind soul. She loved to sing, had a strong faith and a fierce love of God. Heaven just got even brighter when one of their truest angels came home.
She was a member of The United Methodist Church in Farnam, Farm Bureau and was a part of Jerry Peterson's Bus touring club.
Survivors include daughter, Pam (Jim) Glodowski; two sons, Mike (Beth) Messersmith of Gothenburg, NE, Pat (Sandra) Messersmith of Maywood, NE; 14 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren, brother-in-law, Tom Vickers, sister-in-law Arlene Knoll, and daughter-in-law Teresa Schneider.
Leora was preceded in death by her parents, Mike and Sylvia Knoll, husband, Keith Messersmith, son, Garold Messersmith, twin brothers Vernard Knoll and Bob Knoll, sister, Betty Knoll,sister-in-law, Shirley Vickers, parents-in-law, Herbert and Zella Messersmith.
Visitation will be held at the Farnam United Methodist Church; Thursday, February 4, 2021, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm with the family present.
Private family services will be held at Farnam United Methodist Church, with Rev. Dr. Duncan Iburri and Rev. Neil Kloppenborg officiating.
Public graveside services will take place in the Farnam Cemetery on Friday, February 5, 2021 at 3:00 PM.
Memorials may be given to the Farnam Cemetery, Farnam Methodist Church, Farnam Fire and Rescue or the Frontier County Ambulance.
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