Spring Hill, KS: Leland LaVerne Messner, 88, Spring Hill, KS passed away peacefully in his sleep
at his home on Monday December 4, 2023.
He was born October 16, 1935 in Gentry County Missouri.
Leland, the eldest son of Leonard & Alma (Johnson) Messner, grew up in Stanberry. He is a
descendant of Lou & Eva Messner’s large family. He lived on four different farms in and around
Stanberry growing up. The last farm on 35 acres a mile east of Stanberry. In the Spring of 1946
his father had an accident with a planter and broke his neck. At the age of 11 Leland had to
take over all the chores. With his father no longer able to farm in the Fall of 1946 they held an
auction and sold everything. They remained on the farm until 1966 and eventually sold the
farm in 2014 after the passing of his mother.
Leland graduated from Stanberry High School in the Class of 1953 where he was known as
the flying Red Horse. Shortly after graduating Leland purchased a blue 1952 Chevy 4 door for
$1200 and headed to California in May of 1954 for work. With aunts and uncles in California to
assist him in living arrangements his parents and younger brother, Norman, headed to
California with him.
After a year in California his parents decided California wasn’t a place to raise a teenager so
his parents returned to the farming community of Stanberry. In 1956, three months after his
family returned to Stanberry Leland took a two-week vacation to visit his hometown and never
returned to California. He rented an apartment in Kansas City and started working at Wilcox
Electric making $1.75/hr. On the weekends he would return to Stanberry to cruise around.
One weekend in July 1956 he and his cousin, Lewis George, were cruising around Stanberry and
stopped at the local hangout, Henderson Drug Store, for a delicious malt. He noticed two
young ladies at the front of the store and asked his cousin who they were. To his surprise one
of the ladies was the youngest daughter of Eugene and Georgia (Morrow) Slagle, old friends of
his parents. Most Saturday nights his parents and her parents would visit in the parking lot by
the Cap Factory. Leland knew Carol Sue was the youngest of their seven children but didn’t
recognize her. Carol had also moved to Kansas City after graduation (class of ‘55) and was
working at Hallmark. She had traveled home for the weekend to see family. The group hung
out that night. Turns out they only lived 3 blocks apart in KC and began dating.
In January 1957 Leland sold his pony and with some savings bought an engagement ring.
Carol sold her 1955 Chevy and started riding the metro bus to work to help with the wedding
expenses. They married in March 1957. They rented a small apartment in Kansas City before
buying their first home in Shawnee, Kansas in November 1958.
They lived in the house on 68 th street for 41 years. They expanded the floor plan from a 2-
bedroom 1 bath to 4 bedroom and basement. They raised their three kids in this beautiful
home with so many memories of the great neighborhood kids and families.
Leland worked various jobs at $2.50/hr. but would get laid off frequently. He needed a
steady income for his growing family. He joined the Prairie Village Police Department in March
1964. He loved his career in law enforcement. After 37 years he retired in 1990 as Lieutenant.
In 1997 they sold their home in Shawnee and built a house on the five acres in Spring Hill,
Kansas where they enjoyed gardening. The BEST canned green beans came from his garden
along with the biggest tomatoes!
Leland also enjoyed woodshop from small projects to a wooden shed for his parent’s
backyard. He even lost the tip of his thumb in one of his table saw projects. His favorite
pastime was spent fishing at his place at John Redmond Reservoir with his parents, brother,
kids, and many family members over the years.
In December 2007 at the age of 72 Leland was diagnosed with lung cancer with removal of
the upper lobe of his left lung. He was very sick after the surgery and he asked the Lord, “If you
let me live, I will stop smoking. He answered my prayers. On the 16 th day in the hospital I was
discharged. Since I made a deal with the Lord I have never taken a puff of cigarette and Carol
stopped too. The desire to live for my family gave me strength to overcome the cancer.” The
cancer did not require treatment after the lobe removal.
In October 2020 at the age of 85 Leland was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He started
aggressive chemo treatments right away and completed the treatment with radiation in March
He beat cancer twice and died peacefully in his sleep while napping on the couch mid
Survivors include his wife, Carol Sue (Slagle) Messner of 66 years; 2 children, Brian Harvey
and Donita Messner Paola, KS, Ronda Sue and Brent Kuenzi, New Braunfels, TX; daughter-in-
law, Jude, Pittsburgh, KS; 9 Grandchildren, 14 Great Grandchildren, 5 great-great grandchildren;
brother, Leonard Normal Messner, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his eldest son, Randel LaVerne (deceased
2015). He will be laid to rest at High Ridge Cemetery Stanberry Missouri
Special Thanks to all the friends and families over the years who have answered his daily
calls, laughed at his Facebook posts and recognize his attempts to keep up with the ever
changing TECHNOLOGY. He loved spending time with each and every one of you. He will be
remembered as someone who never met a stranger and would give you the shirt off his back.
He will be greatly missed.
Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, December 16 at Roberson Funeral Home,
Stanberry, MO. Burial will follow in High Ridge Cemetery, Stanberry, MO. The family will receive
friends from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be
made to the American Cancer Society in care of Roberson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 153,
Stanberry, MO 64489. Online condolences may be left at www.robersonfuneralhome.com