J. Leon Novetzke was born August 3, 1920, the first of six children of Leo and Rose Novetzke. He was educated at St. John's School and graduated from Wahpeton High School. After his education which included aviation mechanics, he worked for Northwest Air in Alaska, receiving a deferment for the wartime effort. On a visit home during WWII to see his parents, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where his aviation mechanical skills were utilized. He loved flying and all things aeronautical.
After the war, he again worked for Northwest and met Betty Lou Maher in Indianapolis where she worked for Western Union. They were married at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Breckenridge in 1947. An invitation to come and work in the family business made sense with both families in the area so they moved to Wahpeton and raised their four children. He and his brother-in-law Bill Crawford owned together Wahpeton Glass and Paint until Bill's death in 1972 at which time he became sole owner. Additionally, he managed his varied investments to supplement the family. For many years, every Sunday morning before the sun came up, he drove newspapers to Ellendale ND before returning home to roust the kids for Sunday mass. He raised his kids living within his means and saving for a rainy day for he knew well that rainy days do come.
Tragic illness struck his wife in 1963 leaving her disabled and he with young children to raise. Volumes could be written about his diligence, his values and his hardy resolve to "carry on". The "village" helped to raise the children by the investment of time and love via teachers, neighbors and citizens who made an impact that only heaven sees now. Several beloved "nannies" made indelible impressions as well.
He was a member of several civic groups in the community, vets, eagles, elks. He was a regular usher at St. John's church. He cooked and did laundry and taught the kids the same. He could fix just about anything. Dress him up on Saturday night and he was a great dancer. He loved meeting his pals after work for the evening shoot at the local pub.
In 1979 Betty passed away. Leon married Dorothy Carr in 1981 at the age of 61. They retired to Green Valley, Az for a few years and then to Port Charlotte, Fl. They enjoyed Florida and hosted many friends over the years. They built a home on North Shore Drive in Battle Lake in 1996 as they wanted proximity to their children. They managed to stay in their home until early in 2014 when their health declined.
Leon flew airplanes until his 70's and had many special friends that shared that bond belonging to several flying clubs and took part in several air patrol searches. His advanced age put him in the role of watching many pass before him. His "ungroundable" optimism helped him carry on as was the theme of his life. Even into his 80's he found satisfaction in visiting the 'old folks' at the nursing home acting as dealer for Friday cards even though he was older than most.
His was a life seasoned with broken dreams yet he looked for the best in this life and in those he loved. He had a strong sense of heritage and leaving more than he took. His greatest compliment to you would be to expect you to be self-sufficient. He honored you by his certainty that you never needed a "hand out," as he would refer to. His nickname was "Cheapy", affectionately bestowed upon him by family and friends. His tendencies of frugality served him well and left a mark of gratitude on many by virtue of his benevolence. He expected the best from those he invested his time and treasure in. He was tenderhearted. We enjoyed his sweetness and affection that lives as his final act of generosity.
Even as his memory left him, he always remembered that which he valued most: his faith, his family and his legacy.
Preceding him in death his wife, Dorothy Carr Novetzke, his wife Betty L. Novetzke; his mother and father-in-law, Olive and Theodore Maher; brother-in-law, William Maher; his parents, Leo and Rose Novetzke; four of his five siblings, Edmund Novetzke, Maryann Crawford, Robert (Eper) Novetzke, Loretta (Birdie) Hatlie-Merchant; brothers-in-law, William Crawford and Norton Hatlie, sisters-in-law, Margie Novetzke Haugen and Mary Novetzke.
He is survived by his four children, Ted Novetzke(Julie Cooper Novetzke), Tom Novetzke (Kris Walstrand Novetzke), Julie Woeste(Ron), Andrew Joseph Novetzke. Stepsons, Bower and Kevin. Leon's grandchildren include Bridgette Fronk, Dustin and Jordan. Bonita Martinson, Karly and Evan. Lori Polipnick Taylor, Jenifer Polipnick Braun and Nicholas. Katelyn and Collin Weekly and Briar. Thomas S. Novetzke, Ryan Novetzke and Izzabella, Joseph and Brooke Woeste and Kaitlynn, Ashlee, Logan, Kendall, Arianne Woeste, Michael and Gretchen Woeste, Carson, Camden, Madelyn. Laura Lou and Joseph Parente, Christine Novetzke and Matt Prim and Adalynn, Joseph Novetzke, Michael Novetzke.
His youngest brother William Novetzke, Sioux Falls, SD a sweet presence of Dad's first family, survives along with numerous nieces and nephews. Extended and blended family are too numerous to list. A special thanks to the many professionals including bedside, social, spiritual and administrative caregivers for enriching Dad’s life and helping his kids navigate these last years.
Arrangements with Vertin Munson Funeral home. Interment Calvary Cemetery, Wahpeton, ND.
Due to the pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a future date.
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