Leon R. Verhaeghe, 62, a Marshall county resident for most of his life, living at 6159 Spruce Trail, Plymouth, since 1966, died at 5:35 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, 2006. He died in Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend, following a brave and courageous battle against cancer for the past year. He was surrounded by his loving family and comforting friends.
Leon was recently recognized by one of those friends; Mike Clark, as “a mountain of a man.” He went on to state; “The thousands of students that you sometimes coddled and at other times scolded, are richer because of the guidance you have provided. John Glenn High School has seen hundreds of teachers walk the halls, but none with more dedication or passion for making it what it is today than you.”
He left a legacy of love and respect from not only his family and friends, but from the pupils he cared for so deeply in his forty years of teaching. Leon connected with his students and enjoyed communicating with them years later. He had with that the unique ability to discover and help a child who had no goals and on whom others had given up –he would be able to find something to awaken an interest.
Born on April 12, 1943 in Bremen, Leon was the son of Henry L. and Bertha Weber Verhaeghe. He graduated from Madison Township High School with the class of 1961 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1965 and his masters of Education from I.U.S.B.
On June 6, 1964, at St. Domimic’s Roman Catholic Church in Bremen, Leon and Linda S. Gunterman were married. On their 40th wedding anniversary in 2004, their children honored them with a wonderful party, which will always be a precious memory.
Leon was a lifetime farmer and educator - he loved and dedicated his life to both.
He started his teaching career at Walkerton High School as a vocational agriculture instructor. Leon also served as a biology and basic science teacher and the head advisor for the Future Farmers of America program.
He belonged to the Indiana State Teachers’ Association and the National Association of Agricultural Educators. In 2003, he was chosen AG Teacher of the Year by the St. Joseph County Soil and Water Conservation District. His projects with area students included the tree re-placement program and the roadside clean-up. This past year, 2005, he was selected as the John Glenn Teacher of the Year.
Leon, a 4-H leader for 42 years, in 1984 he was recognized as the ‘Outstanding 4H Leader’ by the Marshall Co. Junior Leaders. For over 20 years he held the position of Swine Superintendent, he was past president of the Marshall County 4-H Fair Board and a past president of the area Pork Producers. He loved pigs – especially the Chester White Breed and had planned to raise them after his retirement.
Leon was a member of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, the Walkerton Knights of Columbus and Tyner Odd Fellows Lodge. He was on the board of directors and served as the secretary for the Fulton/Marshall Co-Op and currently served on the Board of the Marshall County Community Foundation.
He enjoyed antique tractors and collected farm toys from various Farm Progress shows and auctions.
Members of his beloved family include his wife Linda, their three children and nine grandchildren, they are: Jeffrey T. & Dana A. Verhaeghe and children; Kaitlyn, Kyle, Kelsey, Klay and Kayleigh all of Argos. Jason B. & Judy A. Verhaeghe and children; Haley and Taylor all of Plymouth. Jessica L. & Thomas D. Mench and children; Morgan and Megan all of Shirley, Indiana.
His parents; Henry L. and Bertha Verhaeghe of Bremen and three brothers; Michael A. & Lynn Verhaeghe, Larry K. & Lori Verhaeghe all of Bremen and Richard W. Verhaeghe of Tyner survive along with several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Also surviving is his mother-in-law; Laurene Gunterman and a brother-in-law; Tony & Pam Gunterman all of Bremen.
Proceeding in death were his father-in-law; Anthony Gunterman Sr. and a nephew Robert L. Verhaeghe.
Family and friends will gather to remember his life on Sunday, February 12, 2006 from 2 – 7 p.m. in the Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home, 1100 N. Michigan St. Plymouth. A Rosary will begin at 1:45 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home and the Tyner Odd Fellow Lodge will conduct a memorial service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue Monday after 7 a.m. and the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Monday, February 13, 2006 in St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 612 N. Center Street, Plymouth. The Rev. Wm. Kummer, Pastor and Rev. Glenn Kohrman, Pastor of St. Mary’s of the Lake, Culver will preside.
Burial will follow in the Bremen Cemetery.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Marshall County Community Foundation Scholarship Fund for Agricultural Ed., c/o 2701 N. Michigan Street, Plymouth, Indiana 46563.
Let us remember Leon for his great sense of humor and his strong love for family, students and fellow educators; always showing and sharing a soft heart.