Clifford George Lehmann was born Sept. 4, 1935, at Sacred Heart Hospital in Le Mars, the second child of George and Leona (Crowley) Lehmann. He was raised with his sisters and brother west of Merrill. A neighbor boy nicknamed him "Jake" when he was young and it stayed with him his entire life. Very few people including close friends knew him as Clifford.
While he was still in high school, he began his lifelong career in transportation, driving the school bus for Liberty School, west of Merrill, where he graduated in 1953.
Jake was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 and was stationed in Hawaii until 1960.
On Jan. 17, 1964, he married Sharon Larson in South Sioux City, Neb. The couple lived west of Merrill, then a short while later moved into Merrill where they would raise their four children.
Jake and Sharon renewed their wedding vows and had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church Nov. 3, 2006, at Assumption with the Rev. Roger Linann celebrating. Jake lost his loving wife Sharon, who also died of cancer June 23, 2007.
Jake spent nearly his whole adult life in the trucking business. He began his career hauling beef to the East Coast. He also worked for local truck owners like Ed Yoerger of Merrill and would help friend Harlan Wagner of Merrill haul loads through the years.
Jake had a nearly 25 year career as a tanker driver for Cargill Incorporated based at the Big Soo Terminal in Sioux City, where Jake would receive a special award from Cargill for driving 2 million accident free miles. When the office closed, he went to work for Chesterman Bottling Company, driving a Coke semi trailer to many Midwest destinations. He retired from Chesterman's in 2000.
He continued to work after retirement, driving for Vander Kooi Trucking in Merrill, where he ended his truck driving career in 2008 when he was diagnosed with cancer.
By the time he retired Jake was near 3 million accident free miles.
He made many friends throughout his life and was never afraid to strike up a conversation with anyone. He was willing to lend a helping hand for those in need without asking much in return, except maybe a cold beer.
He taught his children how to work hard, have a good time and when it's time to leave this earth go with dignity and respect.
Jake was a fighter, living nearly three times as long as most people with this rare type of cancer.
Left to cherish his memory are his four kids and their spouses, Jeff (Mary) Lehmann of New London, Minn., Cathy (Bruce) Tullis of rural Merrill, Carla (Scott) Rieken of Merrill and Dan (Melissa) Lehmann of Le Mars. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren; Jeff's sons, Jacob Lehmann of Merrill and Ryan Lehmann of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Cathy's daughters, Lacey Schlesser of Le Mars and Lindsey Tullis of Sioux Falls; Carla's children, Kayla Rieken of Salix, Kyle and Kassidy Rieken of Merrill, Kourtney Rieken of Le Mars; Dan's sons, Drew, Dylan and Dane Lehmann, all of Le Mars. Survivors also include two stepgrandchildren Lisa (Brandon) Tullis-Williams of Nashville, Tenn., and Mary (Byron) Tullis-Tabor of Winston-Salem, N.C.; two great-grandsons, Talan Lehmann of Merrill and Boston Peters of LeMars and two great-grandsons due to be born before the end of the year; and two stepgreat-grand children, Charles Williams and Lilly Tabor.
He is also survived by sisters, Patsy Theisen and Collette "Cookie" Funck, both of North Sioux City, S.D.; a brother Larry "Pud" Lehmann of Sioux City; a half brother, George Lehmann Jr. of Eugene, Ore.; stepbrothers, Chuck Lehmann of Utica, N.Y., and John Lehmann and a stepsister, Bonnie Meek, both of Eugene, Ore.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Merrill with family friend, the Rev. Andrew Sohm and the Rev Dan Greving co-celebrating the burial mass. Interment will be immediately following the mass at the Assumption Cemetery in Merrill.
Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Carlsen Funeral Home in Le Mars, with the family present from 5-7 p.m. to greet friends. There will be a scriptural wke service at 7 p.m. at the funeral home.
Pallbearers will be his grandsons, Ryan Lehmann, Jacob Lehmann, Kyle Rieken, Drew Lehmann and Dylan Lehmann, and long time truck driving buddies and good friends, Jim Crosgrove, Craig Bergquist and Phil Nicholson. Honorary pallbearers will be the rest of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Expressions of sympathy may be extended to the family through www.carlsenfuneralhome.com.