OBITUARY

Gustav James Lehr

September 21, 1929December 1, 2018

Gustav James Lehr (Gus) 89, of Columbia died Saturday, December 1, 2018. Visitation will be 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. Saturday December 8, 2018 followed by services at 1:00 pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. Burial will be private at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Gus was born September 21, 1929 in Chicago, IL the son of Gustav Sr. and Stella Millak Lehr, the youngest of three children. At age 15 Gus started his first job as an usher at The Hi-Way Theatre for 35 cents an hour. At age 16, Gus began working for Plastic Bindery where he used a hand machine to bind books. His work ethic quickly accelerated him to the job of inspector. All of his earnings were given to his parents to help support their family. Gus graduated from Lindbloom High School in Chicago in 1948, having been delayed a semester due to a serious motorcycle accident and hospitalization. After graduation, his employment took him to Western Adjustment and Inspection Company. Beginning as a file clerk, then delinquent billing clerk, he couldn’t help but be intrigued by the claims adjusters dressed in suit and tie. He described them as the fighter pilots of the company and Gus decided this is what he wanted to be.

After three years and one month, on March 27, 1951, Gus was drafted into the United States Army. Gus boarded an electric train, leaving Chicago and stopping first at Fort Sheridan Induction Center. There he received a series of vaccinations and uniforms and took various aptitude and IQ tests. His next and final stop was Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Six weeks of basic training followed. As everyone got their assignments, Gus found himself alone in the room, his was the last name called. He scored so high on all the tests taken at Fort Sheridan that his superiors were not sure what to do with him, so Gus was sent to a clerical school.

Tagging along on a Labor Day 1951 weekend furlough with a couple of guys he didn’t yet know very well, Gus met Elaine Scheidt in Jefferson City, MO. They were united in holy matrimony on May 3, 1952. Gus was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in March of 1953. In the fall of that year he enrolled at the University of Missouri on the GI Bill. He received a BA in Economics in 1957. While in school during the summer months he worked for Shelter Insurance Companies and their predecessors the MFA Insurance Companies. as a claims adjustor. It was during this time he was encouraged by friend and mentor, Howard B. Lang to go to law school. Somehow he managed to complete his rigorous coursework while raising three daughters under two years of age and studying many late nights in the neighbor’s basement. He learned to hold a baby, a bottle, and a book at the same time. Upon his graduation from University of Missouri School of Law in June, 1959 and his admission to the Missouri Bar Association that September, Gus became a claims attorney at Shelter Insurance Companies, the company where he would spend his entire business career.

During his career with Shelter Insurance Gus noted, “I went through the chairs.” He was named Assistant General Counsel in 1961, Vice-President of Public Affairs in 1966, Executive Vice-President in 1979, President in 1981, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board in 1983 and he continued as Chairman of the Board until his retirement in September, 2000 at the age of 71. Gus worked tirelessly during his career. He traveled frequently to testify at the state and federal level on behalf of the Insurance industry. He cared deeply for his Shelter family and all his colleagues across the country.

In the business community Gus served on the GTE Board of Directors, Boone County National Bank now Central Bank of Boone County Board of Directors and the Christian Health and Allied Services Board. He was active in the Missouri Bar Association serving on its Legislative and Insurance Law Committee and past Chairman of the Insurance Law Committee. He was past Chairman of Missouri Insurance Granity Fund Association and was a member of various Insurance Industry Associations boards and committees.

In civic matters in Columbia, Gus served in many ways over the years. Gus was a member and first Chairman of the University of Missouri Children’s Hospital Advisory Board, member and past Chairman of the Missouri Heart Institute, member and past Chairman of the MU School of Law Foundation Board of Trustees, charter member of the MU Law School Law Society, and member of the Columbia Public School Foundation Board. Gus was instrumental in the formation of CPS Partners in Education between Shelter Insurance and West Junior High School. An award named after Gus is still given today. Gus was a member of the County Constitution Committee and the Chancellor’s Residence Preservation Committee. He was a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.

Gus and Elaine enjoyed time at the Lake of the Ozarks over their entire marriage. Summer vacations were spent with the family at their cabin which had no air conditioning or television. They wintered in Fort Meyers. FL in their later years and for several years attended Mizzou football and basketball games. Gus spent hours refinishing old furniture, manning the barbecue grill and did his own yard work until well into his 70’s. He had not missed a Reader’s Digest Vocabulary word in over sixty years. After his retirement he loved sitting on the bleachers at his grandsons’ sporting events and found that time in his life gave him great joy.

Gus is survived by three daughters: Jackie Thompson (Rob) of Columbia; Cyndi Ankeney (Doug) of Rocheport; Cristi Leonard (Jeff) of FL; four grandsons: Clayton Thompson (Elizabeth); Scott Thompson all of Columbia; Brian Thompson of Bonn Germany (his fiancée Ji Min Lee of Washington, D.C.) and Jason Leonard of FL. Also surviving are baby twin great grandsons, Huck Hansen Thompson and Samuel Lehr Thompson; a sister-in-law: Doris Scheidt Hampton; seven nephews and two nieces.

Gus was preceded in death in 2006 by his wife of 54 years, Elaine Scheidt as well as his parents; one brother: Walter; one sister: Marian; two sisters-in-law; two brothers-in-law and two nephews.

The Thompson Family would like to thank Dr. Wade Schondelmeyer for his outstanding compassion and care over the many years, especially in the last few months. We are grateful to Deacon Fred Fritch and to Gus’s caregivers from Integrity Home Care, the Villages of Mill Creek Assisted Living and the Winwood Neighborhood at Lenoir Woods. In addition we are forever thankful to K.P. Critchfield, Daryl Forte and Mary Cherry who have become like family to us.

In lieu of flowers, per Gus’s wishes, memorials are suggested to the University of Missouri School of Law Foundation or Father Tolton Catholic High School.

  • FAMILY

  • Gus is survived by three daughters: Jackie Thompson (Rob) of Columbia; Cyndi Ankeney (Doug) of Rocheport; Cristi Leonard (Jeff) of FL; four grandsons: Clayton Thompson (Elizabeth); Scott Thompson all of Columbia; Brian Thompson of Bonn Germany (his fiancée Ji Min Lee of Washington, D.C.) and Jason Leonard of FL. Also surviving are baby twin great grandsons, Huck Hansen Thompson and Samuel Lehr Thompson; a sister-in-law: Doris Scheidt Hampton; seven nephews and two nieces.
  • DONATIONS

  • University of Missouri School of Law Foundation or Father Tolton Catholic High School

Services

  • Visitation Saturday, December 8, 2018
  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, December 8, 2018
REMEMBERING

Gustav James Lehr

have a memory or condolence to add?

ADD A MEMORY
roger karns

December 4, 2018

You're one of the best I've ever known. Thank's for the memories. Fair well old friend, Roger

David Schrimpf

December 4, 2018

Uncle Gus was one of a kind. I remember spending lots of time at the house on Thistledown. We used to play Marco Polo in that pool a lot! Gus was always around to give a hand, tell a joke or be a caring adult. He was a terrific uncle and great role model.

FROM THE FAMILY