Gary Eugene Leum, age 76, died peacefully on September 16, 2023, at Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse.
He was born on October 7, 1946, to Lloyd and Inez Leum, the second of 6 children. He met the love of his life, Marilyn Malin, at a party in Timber Coulee, and they married on January 19, 1980, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Westby. They had three wonderful children; Katie, Ron, and Jessi; and raised dairy and beef cattle, along with the occasional pig, at their farm just outside Westby.
Gary was a lifelong Westby resident and had many happy childhood memories fishing and running around with his cousins. He graduated from the Wisconsin State College at River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture. For several years after his graduation, Gary was a substitute teacher and farmed with his brother Tommy. Since then, he worked in many professions, from farming to substitute bus driving, to bartending at various locations around Westby. He retired from the Vernon County Highway Department.
Gary loved sports, whether it was watching or playing. He spent many years playing softball with a great team. They were so in sync that it was like watching a choreographed dance— they didn’t even need to watch where they threw the ball. They knew that someone would be there to catch it. He also loved bowling and participated in many leagues over the years, including couples bowling with Marilyn. He made sure each of his three kids knew how to bowl as well.
He also loved traveling and took two trips to Europe—one with his wife and son to visit his daughters when they studied abroad and one to celebrate Katie’s graduation from grad school. He also loved music and could be found singing along to the radio, as long as you started singing first. In retirement, Marilyn and he loved to listen to live music around the Westby area. On Saturday mornings, he could frequently be found having breakfast with Ron at the Rod and Gun Club in Westby.
He is survived by his beloved wife Marilyn; his children Katie Leum (Jakob Kwarteng) of Denver, Colorado, Ron Leum of Westby, and Jessi Leum of La Crosse; his brothers Peter and Tommy; his sister Marla; his brothers-in-law Peter Bekkum, Mike Fencl, Tom Pederson, Stanley, Stuart, and Gary Malin, Roy Morton, and Howard Maxwell; his sisters-in-law Donna Leum, Joyce Malin, Jo Morton, Ruby Key, Sharon Unseth, Claudine Malin, and Loretta Morton; his son of the heart Justin Ray; his daughter of the heart Sherry Vieth; and his many nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lloyd and Inez; his parents-in-law Charlie and Annie Malin; his sisters Lou Ann Bekkum and Sharon Pederson; his brother John; his brothers-in-law Chuck Malin, Harold Maxwell, and Ray Key; his sister-in-law Dorothy Maxwell; and his nephews RJ Morton and Jeremy Grinnell.
Thank you to the staff at Gundersen Hospital and Norseland Nursing Home for their excellent care.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Norseland Nursing Home Activities or the Auxiliary, or any other organization. He loved helping others and would love to know that his legacy was being carried on.
His celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 11 a.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Westby, with a visitation starting 10 a.m. There will be a visitation on Wednesday, September 20, from 5-7 p.m. at the Roth Family Cremation Center, between Westby and Viroqua. Burial will take place in Our Savior's Cemetery.
The Roth Family Cremation Center and Funeral Services is assisting the family.