Johan "Hans" Lefeber

Lefeber website photo April 8, 2017

Hans Lefeber

April 2, 1926 – April 8, 2017

91 years of age

Hans was born Johan Stephan Lefeber on Good Friday in The Hague, Netherlands.  The youngest of 5 siblings, he was proud to carry his father’s name.  He grew up in the streets behind the palace and later, in the suburb of Voorburg, riding bicycles, skating, and playing pranks.  Barely in his teens, he was a member of the Dutch underground relaying information about Nazi troop movements to the Allies.  He went on to serve in the Dutch army, first training in England with the British infantry before traveling to Indonesia where he served from 1946 through 1948.  After years of meager rations and then the horrible canned foods of the military, it was paradise to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and exotic new dishes of the Dutch East Indies.  Hans became particularly interested in Indonesian cooking and delighted many over the years when he prepared ‘De Rysttafel’ (rice table) buffet of many delicious dishes.

Hans returned to Holland and attended the Hotel and Restaurant College in The Hague, graduating in 1949.  Already a world traveller who spoke four languages, he gained hospitality training and hotel experience in his homeland, England, and Belgium, before he took to the high seas again working on the Holland-America Line. 

He arrived in America in 1952 and stayed, landing a job as Assistant Catering Manager at the Savory Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.  There he met his best friend and the love of his life, Phyllis Crowley. They married in 1956 and, for a brief time, lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma before settling permanently in Minnesota in 1958.  He was immensely proud when he became a naturalized citizen in 1959. 

Hans went on to work as the General Manager of various hotels and country clubs in the Twin Cities area.  He managed one of St. Paul’s finest and oldest city clubs, The Minnesota Club, for 8 years before moving into country club management in Golden Valley, Minnetonka, and Wayzata.  He finally shortened his commute by moving to Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights in 1980.  He rarely hit a golf ball himself, something the golf club members good-naturedly teased him about, but was instead interested in cooking and trying out recipes from his vast collection of cookbooks, watching football and baseball, and spending his free time with his family.

His son, Steve, born in 1961, and daughter, Suzi, born in 1966, brought both he and Phyl great joy.  The family enjoyed many summers at the cabin on Spirit Lake, boating, fishing and swimming, “tail-gating” before Viking games, and neighbourhood barbecues in Eagan.  Hans and Phyl became avid “boosters” for the Henry Sibley Marching Band with Hans successfully leading the fund-raising efforts for new uniforms for the Band. 

He retired in 1992 and promptly took a job as a greeter at the brand-new Walmart in Eagan.  He and Phyl moved into The Arbors town home community where they made many new friends.  Hans and Phyl loved to travel and visit his family in Holland and their daughter and her family in Norway.  They also welcomed many visitors into their home over the years; something they greatly enjoyed.

He was blessed with grandchildren, Emily (21) and Sofie (18), daughters of Suzi and Bjorn Andersen, and Bree McQuade (31), daughter of Brenda and Steve Lefeber, and even great-grandchildren, with Bree and Jared Kolander’s two children Carter (5) and Aubree (2).

Hans will be remembered for many things; his sense of humor, his dashing good-looks, the twinkle in his eye, his warmth, and his wonderful stories.  He has left a void that can never be filled but also he has left a legacy of wisdom, spirit and joy, which he freely shared, that will live with us forever.

Mass of Christian Burial 11AM Wednesday, April 12 at the Church of St. John Neumann, 4030 Pilot Knob Road, Eagan, MN 55122. Visitation one hour prior to mass at church. Burial St. Peter’s Cemetery, Mendota, MN.

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