Burlington, News

Celebrating a century

Leroy Stoehr shares portions of his life story while flipping through a book his family created for him (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers)

Local man touts positivity, kindness for longevity

By Jason Arndt

Positivity, kindness, and enjoying life have been key components of longevity for Burlington’s Leroy Stoehr.

Stoehr, born on March 17, 1923 during a blizzard in the Town of Lyons, celebrated his 100th birthday at Pine Brook Pointe Assisted Living in Burlington among friends, family, and caregivers.

While he couldn’t come up with a clear answer for his secret to longevity, considering he never ate his vegetables, Stoehr said it boiled down to a few simple matters.

“I think a lot of it has to do with being kind to people,” said Stoehr, who graduated from Burlington High School in 1940 before receiving his draft papers to join the United States Marine Corps and served in World War II.

“Don’t drink yourself to death, or eat yourself to death. You just have to try to get a good outlook if you can.”

Stoehr, married to Joyce (Tauscher) for a little more than 72 years, became a father of five with his wife.

His four living children range in age from 61 to 74 while one daughter passed away about six years ago.
According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, Stoehr received draft orders to join the war effort in 1943, eventually joining the Marine Corps.

During his tenure with the Marine Corps, Stoehr ended up with a photography group at Camp Pendleton in California, where he produced training films before being deployed to the South Pacific in the spring 1945.

In the South Pacific, he took part in the Battle of Okinawa, which was considered the last major battle of the war, a VA profile of Stoehr stated.

After the Battle of Okinawa, Stoehr was sent to China, according to the VA profile.

Stoehr, meanwhile, earned an honorable discharge in 1946 and returned to Burlington, where he continued his work with Burlington Brass Work and became sales manager.

“I was in sales and I always have tried to make good friends,” he said. “I am getting a stack of birthday cards from people I don’t remember. They remember me because they were one of my customers and that is a good feeling.”

Dedicated to family
In 1947, LeRoy and his wife, Joyce, married and started a family in Burlington.
Daniel Stoehr, one of his sons, said his father never put any unreasonable expectations on him and his siblings while growing up.

“If we did well (in the classroom), he would come and pat us on the back, but he never said we had to get an ‘A’ or something like that,” Daniel said. “He always encouraged us to do our best and go from there.”

During the summer, the Stoehr family would often head to the beach at Browns Lake, where Leroy’s children would enjoy the water.

“In the summer time, the big thing for us kids would be to go the beach on Browns Lake,” said Bill, another son, who recalled his father and mother spending time dancing the night away.

“Going to the beach was a big thing,” said Leroy, who added he always enjoyed large Christmas gatherings with his family.

Leroy and Joyce, according to Bill, would travel to Milwaukee and meet their dancing friends twice weekly.

“They were great dancers, and he was a dancer,” said Bill. “They danced all through their life and that was his big hobby.”

While their parents found enjoyment in each other, Leroy engaged in typical pastimes with children, such as playing catch in the backyard and fishing on Powers Lake.

He also participated in area bowling leagues, according to Daniel.

Although Leroy never collected cars, he still found pleasure in learning more about them, and spent time looking around for the latest releases.

“He didn’t have a lot of cars, but he was always looking at cars,” Bill said.

See the March 23 print edition of the Standard Press for the full story.

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