Leroy Leyton Hafner “Lee” died on Nov. 2, 2016, after a prolonged illness of mesothelioma. He was born to Theodor and Minnie Hafner (nee Wacker) on March 11, 1928, on the family farm near Beulah, N.D., the fourth in a family of six children. He was baptized at Kronthal Lutheran Church on April 18, 1928, and confirmed in the Christian faith on July 20, 1941. He grew up in a German Lutheran community, learning the English language when he began attending Kronthal Public School. Lee and his brother commuted to high school in Beulah, traveling 30 miles of rough country roads daily in their old Model A Ford. Doing farmyard chores, early and late, was a condition of their being allowed to pursue education beyond the eighth grade.
Lee left the farm at age 17 to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. After completing his first year at school and a summer of work with the forest service in northern Idaho, he enlisted in the U.S. military. He returned to Billings following his honorable discharge, intending to complete his education. But, life and marriage intervened and, instead, he began a career in banking, which lasted over 41 years. Beginning as a messenger, he retired as Vice President and Senior Trust Administrator. At the bank, he met Diana Steiger, his future wife, the love of his life and partner in marriage for 64 years. Together, they raised four children: Lorelei, Denise, Nicholas and Wendy.
Church and related activities were a major influence in the family. Lee was a longstanding member of the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church and served in many administrative positions within the church. He was also active in several community organizations in connection with his job and, at retirement, volunteered at his church and a local hospital for many years.
Volunteering, travel and socializing with friends were part of his life as a retiree. Lee and Diana traveled extensively, visiting countries all over the world, via land tours, cruises and independent excursions. Lee spent many happy hours tending yard and garden, and took great satisfaction in perfecting his own Little Eden. After a long life, Lee has embarked on his final journey to be with his Maker and Lord.
He leaves his wife, Diana; his four children and spouses, Lori and Bob Waller, Denise and Dick Monaco, Nick and Amy Hafner, and Wendy and Justin Smith; and eight grandchildren, Michael (Ali) and Katie Waller, Demarie (Dan) Johnson and Matthew Monaco, Jordan Hafner, and Tyler, Ryan and Brady Smith; plus three great-grandchildren, Maddox, Piper and Asher Johnson. Also surviving him are his remaining sibling, Paul (Sylvia) Hafner; and numerous in-laws, cousins, nephews and nieces, Hafner and Steiger relations.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 7, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 537 Grand Ave.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or a charity of your choice.