Lawrence Oscar Rueter

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  • "Lawrence was like a Grandfather to us three girls growing..."
    - Lisa Schaffert (Doetker)
  • "Lawrence was an amazing man, with wit and humor and an ever..."
    - Pattie
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Longtime farmer, rancher, artist, and scholar, Lawrence Oscar Rueter, 98, died April 21, 2011, at his residence in Bozeman, Mont.

Lawrence was born 12/12/12 in Wauneta Neb., the seventh of nine children born to Lawrence Melchior Rueter, a Lutheran minister turned farmer and his wife, Elizabeth Neuhart. The young Rueter family learned to farm with a team of horses, and harvest and thresh wheat with steam engines. They raised bountiful gardens, fed cattle and hogs, and tended orchards.

Lawrence attended Sunnyside Grade School and Wauneta Rural High where he excelled in academics and won a county spelling bee.

He later married Mina Faye Johnston, who taught school in Hayes Center, Neb. and Goodland, Kan. Their engagement was extended until 1941 because, at the time, married female school teachers were not hired by the schools.

On the South Divide near Wauneta, Neb., Lawrence practiced sustainable agriculture and developed a land ethic for the Great Plains. His progressive stewardship supported his family through drought, wind, hail, insects, and low cattle/grain prices. Lawrence and Faye were always active in the community; in their church, square-dances, volunteering on various boards, and starting the town's first theater group that performed plays each winter. After harvest and before fall fieldwork, the family always looked forward to traveling. Lawrence and Faye visited 48 states and three continents.

He was a skilled self-taught artist and produced numerous wood carvings, scrimshaw works, silver and brass jewelry, and pencil drawings for numerous people throughout his life. Most of his art was generously given to family and friends and even admirers. Beloved handcrafted toys, including a detailed, miniaturized western town, are still enjoyed with each new generation of children. His wry sense of humor was expressed through his satirical drawings, cartoons, and notes to family and friends.

In 1999 with Faye no longer by his side, Lawrence moved to Dexter, Mich., where he continued to read, garden, and create beautiful pieces of jewelry in his six years there before moving to Bozeman, Mont.

He is survived by his youngest sister, Lucille Lee of Lancaster, Va.; two children, Marcia Rueter (Ed) Leritz of Bozeman, Mont., and Marc (Anne) Rueter of Ann Arbor, Mich.; six grandchildren: Paul (Michelle) Brunkhorst of Buffalo, Wyo.; Dan (Christina) Brunkhorst of Lewistown, Mont.; David Rueter of Ann Arbor, Mich., Joan Rueter of Alameda, Calif.; Lyle (Bernadette) Leritz of Ferndale Wash., and Justin Leritz of Puyallup, Wash.

Eleven great-grandchildren: Chase Brunkhorst of Buffalo Wyo., Dean Manica of Anacortes, Wash.; Marie, Mina, Marlen, and Mokeem Brunkhorst of Lewistown, Mont.; Natalia della Valle of Basil, Switzerland, Dylan Frost of Alameda, Calif.; Reilly, Nathan, and Nicholas Leritz of Ferndale Wash.

Nieces and nephews: Beverly Davis (Larry) Valcovic, Annapolis, Md; Judy McBride Peterson (Mike) and Mary McBride Breeden (Scott), Crystal Lake, Ill; Kathy McBride (Gary), Richmond Calif.; Robin Lee and Kevin Lee, Gaithersberg, Md.; Jennifer Lee (Deb), Gum Springs Va.; Jeanne Rosetti Beatty (Greg), Ocean Pines, Md.; Marilyn Burkland (Richard), Lincoln, Neb.; Jan Eastwood, Callaway, Neb.; Clark (Fran) Rueter, Haxtun, Colo.; Gary Kitt, Lincoln, Neb.; Stuart Kitt, St Charles, Ill.; Rhea Kay Johnston and family, Lincoln, Neb.; Mary Johnston and family, Valencia, Calif.; Sue Powell Trummel, Portland, Ore., and many grand nieces and nephews.

He will also be missed by special friends: Lorene Lovell, Tara Griffith, Rachel Hewitt, Cindy Overmyer, Cindy, Tina, and Gemma Rodriguez, Blue Armstrong, and Kevin Janicek.
A heartfelt thanks to the wonderful staff at Birchwood at Hillcrest for their care and friendship throughout the past six years.

A Celebration of Life for family and friends will be held the Aspen Pointe chapel at 2 p.m. Friday, June 3, in Bozeman, Mont. Graveside services are planned at a later date in Wauneta, Neb.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to the Medical Memorial Fund in Wauneta, Neb., at 308-394-5555.

Condolences and memories may be shared with family at

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Apr. 24, 2011
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