Lee Robert Schuster, beloved husband, father and grandfather, died Aug. 13, 2019, in Coronado, Calif. He was 85.
Born June 20, 1934, Lee grew up in Ridgewood, N.J., but spent every summer on the Schuster farm in Gower, Mo. He graduated from Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J., where he was once scolded for wearing cowboy boots in the chapel. He also was a New Jersey state wrestling champion in high school.
Following high school he went to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and majored in agricultural economics. Following graduation, Lee served as an officer in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Eustis, Va. After serving, he used his ag school knowledge to run Schuster Farms, an integrated hog operation in Gower.
Lee then joined Oppenheimer Industries in Kansas City, Mo., serving as vice president for 15 years. He left Oppenheimer to start Hogty Management Corp., a farm-management company based in St. Joseph. Gradually, Lee turned over the operation of Hogty to Jeremy Henry.
With Jeremy at the helm of Hogty, Lee was able to spend more time in Arizona, where he filled his days riding horses with his beloved wife Judy and friends.
While in St. Joseph, Lee was an adjunct professor of economics at Missouri Western State College. He loved his students and believed in serving the community by investing in its young adults.
A gifted storyteller with a personable, smart and fun writing style, Lee wrote an agriculture column, “The Back Forty,” for the St. Joseph News-Press and Gazette for many years. He delighted in pretending to be naive in his columns and loved it when readers set him straight. He once wrote about seeing people wearing orange vests and hats during a farm visit trip to Iowa. Because they were carrying guns, he wrote that he thought they must have been “some type of militia.” He did not let on that he knew they were hunters. A reader contacted Lee after she read the column to let him know that they were not militia, but were deer hunters. He really got a kick out of that.
Lee enjoyed walking on Ashland Avenue in St. Joseph and had a great love for music, especially opera. He supported the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Phoenix Opera and even made a few stage appearances as an extra.
Lee served as president of Community Concerts, a music outreach program in St. Joseph. He also served as president of the Benton Club. He was an elder and clerk of session at the First Presbyterian Church of St. Joseph. He served on the board of the Mercantile Bank and later served as president of the board of Heartland Hospital, also in St. Joseph.
Lee was an engaging man with a firm, friendly handshake and a kind presence. While his family mourns the loss of his sweet and gracious ways, they also wish to celebrate his indomitable spirit and love of life.
Lee is survived by Judy, his wife of 59 years; his son and daughter-in-law, Fred and Maura Schuster of Wickenburg; his daughter and son-in-law, Anne Schuster and Duncan Wilcox of Denver, Colo.; and his son and daughter-in-law, David and Patricia Schuster of New Freedom, Pa. Lee took great joy in being a grandfather to his five granddaughters: Kedzie and Summer Schuster; and Emily, Abigail, and Eliza Schuster. He also is survived by his sister, Luanna Cooke of Seattle, Wash.
A visitation will be held from 4 - 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25 at the Meierhoffer Funeral Home, 5005 Frederick Ave., St. Joseph.
The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 26, at the First Presbyterian Church, 301 N. 7th St. A burial will follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the First Presbyterian Church, 301 N. 7th St., St. Joseph, MO 64501, or the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, 21 N. Frontier St., Wickenburg, AZ 85390.
Meierhoffer Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.