Everyone grieves in their own way after the loss of someone they love. While many times the emotions one experiences are crippling, other times people are able to rise above these feelings and be transformed in major, life-altering ways.
When Leo Kellner, 98, lost Madelon, his wife of 72 years to complications of dementia in 2012, he could have chosen to live out the rest of his days in a very relaxed and simple manner from their Hastings, Nebraska, home. However, he has never been one to sit around and do nothing.
“After I lost my wife I didn’t know what to do. So I said, ‘Well I can bake,’ so I started baking,” Kellner said.
And bake he did! In the first year alone he made 144 apple pies.
While many might be tempted to eat their sorrows away with these tasty treats, Kellner has dedicated his work to a much more noble cause: anything he bakes he gives away. He says, “Everything I do, I do it with love. That’s my secret ingredient is love.”
Kellner attributes his baking skills to his mother, whom he watched growing up. He also gets the passion for giving his desserts away to those in need from his own childhood experiences growing up in hardship.
“I knew what it was to be poor, and a lot of times we just had eggs and flour mixed up together,” he said. “I made up my mind if I ever could, I would help people, do good things for people … So as long as I can do it, I will.”
That is why all of his desserts are always free; all he requests is they be picked up from his home. His generosity is made possible by the donations of others and discounts from the local markets
For his pies, Kellner offers a variety of apple, cherry, and a sugar-free apple/cherry/peach mixture to for those who are diabetic. His selection of cakes is much larger, however, and can include almost anything requested of him; he even made a wedding cake once!
Have you ever contemplated the healing properties of pie? Leo Kellner has. He grew up during the dust bowl, when dessert was a luxury. At the age of 98, he laces up his flour-dusted apron just for the chance to make someone’s day. Hastings, Nebraska
Posted by Nebraska Stories on Saturday, March 25, 2017
“I try to help everybody I can,” he said. “It makes me feel happy. God left me here for a reason and this is why I think he did. How many other [98-year-olds] can do what I’m doing?”
Although he is slightly limited by arthritis in his right hand, his part-time caretaker is happy to help him frost some of the cakes he bakes. Besides the occasional help with frosting, Kellner does everything else all by himself.
It seems as if the entire community has had a Kellner creation at some point these last few years. While his generosity is undeniable, the quality of his desserts is equally unmatched.
“They’re pretty darn good, they really are,” said Reverend Michael Houlihan of St. Michael’s Church. “Every time we have a funeral here, he has one brought over.”
“And every time one of us goes over there he gives us one,” he continued. “He’s always been that way. Some look inward, he looks outward. If you say ‘hi’ to him, he’ll probably give you a pie.”
Kellner admits he gets all the reward he could ever ask for when he sees the appreciation on the faces of others. “To see the smile on their face, that’s worth all the money in the world,” he said. “Nobody can buy that. That smile means so much to me.”
This just goes to show there is never an age where you are unable to make a difference in someone else’s life. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
-His wife passed away after battling dementia, which left him devastated.
He didn’t know what to do with himself but finally decided on something amazing!
What a wonderful man!