Many thanks to the wonderful people of Lebo for creating a home worth coming back to. In 1979, Rod moved back to Lebo, on the original home place of his family. He continued to commute to work in Olathe Kansas for 13 years.
Memorial donations may be made to the “Pony and Prayer Project” and can be sent to Farmers State Bank of Aliceville, Lebo Branch, P.O. Box 66, Lebo, KS 66856. This project provides pony rides and bibles to the children in and around where Rod grew up.
Lewis Rodney Lewis (Rod) of Lebo, Kansas was born February 14, 1930, the eldest son of John H and Trilby (Graves) Lewis. June 2, 1956 he married Betty Lou Fick of Newton. Two children were born of this union – Susan Melinda Sundberg of Leawood and David Rodney Lewis of Osage City. He is survived by his wife of the home, their two children, 4 grandchildren, Heather Gow of Arizona, Michael and Mitchel Lewis of Osage City, Stephen Sundberg of Leawood, son-in-law, Kurt Sundberg of Leawood, daughter-in-law, Vida Lewis of Osage City and his brother John Harland Lewis of Emporia (best friends through life). He was preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law Donna Faye (Pinkston) Lewis of Emporia.
Rod loved responsibility and challenges. Some of his accomplishments were:
• Lebo High School (1947)
• BS in Business (1956)
• Certified shorthand reporter (1959)
• Twenty-eight hours toward an MBA
• Fellow (masters) from the Institute for Court Management(1980)
• 1947 – 1958 Worked through College and CSR school at Santa Fe Truck Line
• 1950 – 1992 US Army Reserve (42 years)
• 1958 – 1959 Court Reporter in New Orleans
• 1959 – 1975 Court Reporter in Olathe
• 1975 – 1992 Court Administrator in Olathe
• President Olathe Optimist Club (1966 – 80 members)
• Reservist of the year (1967)
• Citizen soldier of the year (1970)
• Honorary member Johnson County Bar Association (1973)
• American Royal Parade entry (1974)
• Commission, US Army Reserve (1976)
• Liberty Bell Award, Johnson County Bar Association (1977)
• President, Kansas District Court Clerks and Administrators (1987)
It was his honor to give back to the community that gave him such a good start in life.
• Lebo FFA Farmer of the Year (1985)
• Lebo – Waverly school board (16 years)
• President, Lebo Senior Center
• Parade Chairman Lebo July 4th celebration
• Honorary Member / Speaker, Lebo National Honor Society
• First place in the Lebo 4th of July photography contest (a picture of a 102 year old and his pony
enjoying a moment together).
When asked to articulate an interesting activity in each facet of his life he chose several 1st degree murder cases he wrote in shorthand and his being selected as the official Court Reporter for the Kansas Bar (1600 members). He was the first appointed court administrator in Kansas (165 employees). He was told the average life expectancy at time of hiring was 5 years. He had 17 years at retirement and claimed he served 2 ½ lifetimes. He was also Executive Secretary of the Johnson County Bar and won the Best Bar in Kansas 14 of the 16 years of that competition. He created the first Johnson County Bar letter which continues monthly to this day.
In 1950, during the Korean War, he joined the Army Reserve so he could go to war with friends and if killed they could tell his parents the details of his death. Two years later they all returned alive.
Years later, as a member of the 89th Division (KS, CO and NE with headquarters in Wichita). He held the rank of Sargent Major and chose to retirement, the 89th was reorganized into a training division and needed 700 drill sergeants (Smokey the bear hats). Major Gorsky of the KC unit was selected to organize and administer the mission. He selected Rod to serve as his Sargent Major. Together they created a 6 week leadership training program for the Active Army. They accomplished the assignment with top accolades. Today Major Gorsky lives on a lake in Michigan and retired as Major General Gorsky (2 stars). Rod was persuaded to skip retirement and accept a commission in the Judge Advocate General (Legal division) and served another 16 years as an officer and retired in 1992 at age 62.
His golden years were enjoyed with his son on a haying operation overlooking Melvern Lake.
Rod loved ponies. He saw a magical relationship between a child and a pony and gave children thousands of pony rides, including one child of 102 years. He considered ponies to be his friends and treated them accordingly, they responded in kind. His favorite saying, “Every child deserves a pony ride.”
Rod brought ponies to the Peterson nursing home in May during National Nursing Home Month. A picture taken at that event won 1st place in a Fourth of July photo contest. The caption he wrote read, "The positive attributes offered by animals, encourage people in nursing homes to smile, respond and show an interest in life. It brings folks out of their shells. Animals aid in therapy. Our ponies are calm and love to be around people. They provide memories for a lifetime.”
One of his greatest accomplishments was to bring his wife’s dream to life. Together they created and ran one of the largest Montessori preschools in the United States for over 13 years with annual enrollment of about 250 children (families). The school was located in the heart of Johnson County on three acres with five class rooms two barns (one for the animals and a hay barn for the children) and many farm animals including ponies, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens. Rod managed all the accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and operations on a manual 10-key adding machine.
After moving back to Lebo, Mrs. Lewis served as the Kindergarten teacher in Lebo for 16 years and participated in the parents as teachers program for another 6 years. During this time both Mr. and Mrs. Lewis enjoyed supporting many of Lebo sporting events and community activities
Rod was a loving son, brother, husband and father. A private family ceremony will be followed by a private interment in Lincoln / Lebo Cemetery.