Remembering Werner Louis Leipold
Werner “Lefty” Leipold ’46 passed away in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, on September 15, 2021, following a short illness. He was 96.
Lefty was born in Immendingen, Germany, on March 8, 1925, the oldest of two sons of Oskar and Hedwig Leipold. His parents immigrated to the United States and settled in Milwaukee when Lefty was four years old, where he remained until graduation from Washington High School. He was vice-president of his junior and senior classes and sports editor of the school’s newspaper.
He often reflected on how fortunate and blessed he was to be brought to America as a young child. Growing up in Germany in the 1930s, in his mind, was unimaginable.
Lefty’s childhood dream was to be a professional baseball player – another Lefty O’Doul. The war years and other issues caused those dreams to be unfulfilled. However, fate and his son Craig came to the rescue. For his 70th birthday, he had the honor of throwing the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewer baseball game. A memorable picture of that moment hangs in his office.
After high school, Lefty enrolled in the engineering school at the University of Wisconsin, with just enough money to get through the first semester. The money problem was solved when on July 1, 1943, he enlisted in the Navy and was accepted in the first class of the Navy V-12 program designed to prepare young men for active duty as officers and completed his accelerated studies while on active duty at the university. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Following graduation as a mechanical engineer, he served in the Pacific theater on an attack transport and then a refrigerator ship. In the fall of 1947, after returning to the university for a year of business school, he began what turned out to be a 40-year career with Kimberly-Clark corporation.
On June 11, 1949, Lefty was indeed fortunate to marry a great gal from Little Rock, Betty Jo Hartsell, an American Airlines flight attendant recently transferred to Memphis from New York at her mother’s insistence so that she wouldn’t marry a Yankee. Ironic how things work out sometimes. The marriage endured for 65-plus happy, exciting, adventurous, and loving years.
Lefty’s career included a number of geographic moves that took him on career paths in engineering, human resources, and manufacturing. Among his varied assignments, he had a tour of duty as the plans manager during construction, and then the first plant manager, of the Kimberly-Clark plant in Conway, Arkansas. Conway was Lefty and Betty Jo’s favorite assignment. Later he served as vice-pPresident of corporate human resources, and then managing director of the corporate subsidiary in Germany.
Lefty retired in 1987, and he and Betty Jo moved to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he served as secretary of the Public Works Committee, and on the Board of Cedar Mountain Ambulance. He was an active volunteer in the Village and a member of the Kiwanis Club and Christ of the Hills Methodist Church.
In the fall of 2015 he moved to an apartment at Good Samaritan, where he spent six happy years. Many residents were privileged to enjoy “Werner’s Wonderful Belgian Waffles,” either at breakfast gatherings in his apartment or when hand-delivered.
Lefty enjoyed life, and the older he became, the more positive his outlook. He would tell you that he was truly blessed throughout his entire life.
Lefty was preceded in death by Betty Jo (2014) and his daughter-in-law, Donna (2021).
He is survived his son Lance of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, along with granddaughters Laura (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) and Shannon (Dallas, Texas); and his son Craig (Helen) of Racine, Wisconsin, and grandsons Chris (Cape Coral, Florida), Connor (Veronica) (Washington, D.C.), Sam (Key West, Florida), Bradford (Racine, Wisconsin), and Kyle (Melissa); and great-granddaughters, Cora, Iva, and Mara, and great-grandson, Everett, from Cedarburg, Wisconsin.