Benson veteran who served in post-WWII Japan was ‘a friend to everyone he met’ | State and Area News

OMAHA – Around Lewis Klanderud, no one remained a stranger for long.

It didn’t matter whether you were training alongside her in the Philippines for post-WWII occupation duty, another patron of the Nifty Bar, her longtime haunt in Benson, or a nurse at an Omaha hospital during the last week of his life.

“He was very nice. He would be a friend to everyone he met,” said Susan Adamson, Klanderud’s daughter.

He died on June 25 at the age of 97.

Klanderud grew up on a farm in rural Cedar County and graduated from Wynot High School. He joined the army in March 1945. After boot camp, he returned to Nebraska to marry his beloved, Lucille DePue, just as the Japanese surrendered to end World War II.

Klanderud was therefore trained as an engineer and sent to Okinawa – which had been destroyed in the last major land battle of the war – to help rebuild the island’s roads.

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Adamson said he enjoyed his training in the Philippines.

“He met a lot of wonderful Filipinos,” she said.

Klanderud was released at the end of 1946, moving to Council Bluffs and later to Hartington. The couple had a son and three daughters.

He passed the civil service exam in 1952 and moved to Omaha. For years he worked on a mail train that ran from Omaha to Cheyenne, Wyoming, part of a crew that picked up mail from small towns along the way and sorted it along the way.

“He also did a lot of odd jobs,” Adamson said. “He was good at carpentry. He painted a lot. »

After trucks replaced mail trains in the 1960s, Klanderud worked for the post office in finance. He retired in 1984 but continued to participate in a coffee group for mail train retirees.

Klanderud loved fishing. Every year he and a few buddies would take a long fishing trip to Canada, then he would come back and host a fish fry for the extended family. He also enjoyed taking his wife and children camping across the West in a pop-up trailer.

“He was a great family member,” Adamson said.

Klanderud was active in the American Legion and VFW, and was selected to the Forty and Eight Club, an honor society which was an offshoot of the Legion. He also participated in the Heartland Honor Flights, an effort in 2008-09 that brought hundreds of World War II soldiers to Washington.

Although his eyesight gradually faded due to macular degeneration, Adamson said he continued to fish until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. And his mind remained sharp.

“Last week at the hospital he was talking to all the nurses,” she said. “He wanted to know where they came from. He asked questions about their lives.

Services were held June 29 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, where Klanderud was a longtime member. He was buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park next to Lucille, who died in 2006. He was also predeceased by his sisters, Dorothy and Marguerite; his son, Tim; and her granddaughter, Hayley Fausset.

He is survived by his daughters, Keri Comfort, Susan Adamson and Judy Fausset; six grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

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