Friday, February 13, 2015

Well-known western historian Tom Buecker dies

by Larry Miller

Tom Buecker was well known across the High Plains region – especially in the Nebraska panhandle, where he served 26 years as curator at the Fort Robinson Museum located at Fort Robinson State Park west of Crawford.

Tom Buecker (1946-2015)
Buecker died last week (2/2/15) while shoveling snow at the Kennard House in Lincoln, where he had served as curator for the Nebraska State Historical Society since leaving Fort Robinson in 2011.  He was 66 years old.

We first met Buecker a decade ago while doing some research at the historic western Nebraska fort.  He was most accommodating and helpful – a trait we later learned was something of a hallmark for Tom.  Our Spearfish neighbor, David Wolff – a long-time history professor-turned-administrator at Black Hills State University -- also spoke highly of Buecker, telling us about the excellent Fort Robinson History Conferences that were co-sponsored by the historical society and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for many years.  Tom Buecker was a key player in the success of those conferences.  Alas, they are no more.

When Tom Buecker was transferred to Lincoln in 2011, Dawes County and the panhandle lost a superb advocate of Old West history.  Not only had Buecker established himself as a top-notch researcher, he was also a superb author – publishing two volumes that focused on the history of the old Army outpost at Fort Robinson from 1874 to 1948.  Fort Robinson is now among Nebraska’s best-known State Parks.  

Buecker’s most recent book, “A Brave Soldier & Honest Gentleman” was published last year.

Omaha World-Herald  "The Guy was a Giant"  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise

by Larry Miller

We've not met Chuck Leypoldt, but the family name will ring a bell with many residents of Dawes County.

Pastor Woodrow Leypoldt is shown with 
several of his children, circa mid-1950s. 
In recent years, Chuck's son, Seth, was pastor of the United Methodist Church in Chadron from 2005 to 2012. However, a couple of generations ago the Leypoldt family called Crawford home. 

Seth's grandfather was something of a "circuit rider" for area Methodist churches, living and ministering to a congregation in Crawford and scooting up and down U.S. Highway 20 to serve the congregation at Whitney's Warring Methodist Church as well.

We met up with Chuck via e-mail a couple of years ago, and he was kind enough to share a photo of his siblings and dad (shown here) that was likely taken at Chadron State Park.

Like his father, Chuck also served as a Methodist minister for many years, and then added several working years to his resume in the banking and insurance businesses.  He's retired now and calls Lincoln, Nebraska home.

The Woodrow Leypold family (undated)
Chuck says he spends much of his time keeping up with his family, taking photos of church art (he's dubbed himself the "Steeple Chaser") and writing.

We've enjoyed his many online postings at, but he's also assembled a 280-page family memoir of years criss-crossing Nebraska as son of a pastor, pastor, and father of a pastor.  It's entitled "Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise."

We're delighted that Chuck Leypoldt has allowed us to share an excerpt from his book.  In fact, it's all of Chapter 5, recounting the Leypoldt years in Crawford in the mid-1950s, and you can read it here: "The Garden Beyond the Sandhills." 

Chuck's website also notes that he's taken some 20,000 pictures of church art, and you'll find many of them online and in his book, which you can order by going to:  Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise.