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Reuben H. Schleifer

Reuben (Rube, Coach) Schleifer was born February 21st, 1922 and died on August 4th, 2018 at the age of 96. Rube was born to Martin and Hannah (Doering) on the farm north of Byron, Nebraska.

Rube worked through some tough years during the depression on the family farm. He borrowed shoes to play basketball and had a shoe cobbler attach cleats to an older pair of work boots for football. To help meet expenses, he worked in the Colorado hay fields in the summer for a quarter a day. His “Uber ride” back to Nebraska was in an empty boxcar that got him as close as Deshler, which was still miles from home, but within walking distance back then.

Rube attended Deshler High School and played multiple sports at Hebron Jr. College, where he met a lifetime friend, Mook Wilhelms. He received a scholarship to Doane, and again lettered in three sports and received the Bert Knapp Trophy for “Outstanding Achievement Scholastically and on the Field”. In 1942 with less than a semester to complete his degree, the US Military called him to serve. Rube decided to enlist in the Air Force. He had training stops from Milwaukee to Biloxi, Mississippi and recalled vividly traveling to over 30 camps in the US and Europe during his 3.5 years of service. It was this travel that influenced him to “stay put”, turn down offers to play professional baseball, and remain wherever he landed as long as they would keep him. Chester also offered the opportunity to work with his Dad on the farm and remain close to family and friends in the area. Thus, 41 years in the Chester school system and beyond.

The US Military discovered that he was fluent in German and shortly after getting his pilot certificate he was shipped off to Military Intelligence to become a “Nazi Hunter”. Members of this group examined documents that could be used in war crime trials in Germany. Doane graciously bestowed Rube his diploma in 1943, giving him credit for his military education.

Life soon got better after his honorable discharge from the military. He was offered a coaching/ teaching position in Chester in 1946, coaching three sports and teaching History and American Government. “Officially” Rube met Gladys after her graduation from Chester High School. They enjoyed 65 years together residing at the same address that he purchased from Pat Boyer for $5,000. For many years Rube coached and Gladys washed Bulldog uniforms - THAT is a true team.

Coach was blessed with excellent parental and community support. His late night bed-check activities are legendary to have his team prepared for a contest the next night. He was fortunate to receive several honors for teaching, coaching and community support, which he always shared with the support from Gladys. Some of his more memorable awards include: Mike Heck Award in 1976, Nebraska Wesleyan Educator of the Year in 1988, Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, National Coaches Hall of Fame 2002 and the Doane D Award in 2002 for a former athlete providing outstanding community service. He also was recognized for his work on the Thayer County Hospital Board. He has maintained great friendships over the years with former students, especially the “young men” that went undefeated in ‘52-53, giving him his only State Championship.

Rube “retired” in 1987 and started a new career, volunteering in a number of organizations. He was a board member at the State Bank of Chester and Thayer County Hospital, working passionately to provide quality health care by upgrading facilities and providing excellent services locally. He enjoyed working with the board members and other volunteers. He especially enjoyed the challenges of raising funds for the hospital. Rube was a Teammates Mentor till almost the age of 90 and served on the local Teammates board.

One of Rube’s hobbies was having a cow/calf herd. That activity created the opportunity for a strong, loving relationship with the Lavern, Verla, Steve and Marla Heitmann family, with too many good memories to list here. Rube moved to Terrace Courtyard Apartments in 2016. He rekindled relationships with old friends and students. John Schlife’s friendship and assistance there was truly a blessing.

Rube competed in the Cornhusker State games for years, still bringing home the gold. At 92 he won the shot put event for the 80+ age group. (records are sketchy on the number of competitors) Rube enjoyed taking his grandchildren hunting, fishing, to Husker sports and playing billiards. He also enjoyed time with his great grandchildren at family celebrations and of course on the courts or ballfields.

Reuben was a devote Christian man and served on various boards at St. Johns in Chester.

Reuben was preceded in death by his parents Martin and Hannah, his wife Gladys and his sister Glennis.

He is survived by his two sons, Stan of Bennington, NE and Wes of Council Bluffs, IA; his three grandsons Jon (Leigh Dutton), daughter Andreia of Omaha, Jared (Kara Carpenter) daughters Molly and Emily and son Jacob of Omaha, Jamie (Allie Oestmann) and sons Jax Reuben and Jett Paul of Fort Calhoun; sister-in-law Arlene Matthiesen of Sioux Falls and daughter-in-law Vicki Buras of Omaha, nieces and nephews and numerous other relatives.

Funeral services will be held 3 PM, Thursday, August 9, 2018, Stastny Community Center, Hebron, Nebraska, conducted by Pastor Robert Hopkins and Fred Meyer

Military graveside services by State Line American Legion Post #317

Interment will be in Chester Cemetery, Chester, Nebraska
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the Reuben Schleifer Memorial Fund.

Friends may call on Wednesday, August 8 , from 1 PM to 8 PM at Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home
Chester, Nebraska where the family will receive friends from 6 PM to 8 PM
Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home, Chester, Nebraska in charge of arrangements


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