Larry Leon ‘Corky’ Nienhiser – Marshall Democrat-News

Larry Leon “Corky” Nienhiser, 83, died Thursday, July 14, 2022, at his home, surrounded by his family. Cork was born April 3, 1939, at Fitzgibbon Hospital, Marshall, Mo. The second of three children born to Elmer and Selma (Kalthoff) Nienhiser of Blackburn, Mo., he was baptized April 23, 1939, at Zion Lutheran in Blackburn, and confirmed in the faith at Zion on March 29, 1953.

As a young boy, he got his nickname because he had a cap like Corky from the Our Gang movies. He attended Zion Lutheran School in Blackburn until eighth grade, then graduated from Blackburn High in 1957. He received a BS in agriculture in 1961 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. After college, he was recruited for a quality control position at HJ Heinz in Muscatine, Iowa. He married his high school girlfriend, Frances Buck, in Sion on October 13, 1962. While living in Muscatine, they helped found Our Savior Lutheran Church.

In 1965, tired of never seeing the sun, Cork left Heinz and applied to veterinary school at MU. Not having been accepted at first, he was not discouraged and began higher education by taking courses in Ag-Chem. He successfully applied again in 1966. While pursuing his DVM, his daughter Jill was born in Columbia in December 1969 and adopted by their family in January 1970. Corky graduated that spring and took a job as veterinary intern in Higginsville, Mo. His daughter Susan was born in February 1972.

Cork moved the family to Lexington, Mo. and opened a temporary clinic. He and Frankie purchased their land in 1972, where Frankie still resides. They first lived in the estate’s imposing old farmhouse, and Jill and Susan had a magical childhood in their “little farm in town”, complete with barns to play in, fruit trees and berry bushes to snack on, a “howl” and train tracks to explore, and a menagerie of cats, dogs, pigs, goats, horses, cows, chickens and ducks.

Cork and Frankie built the Lexington Veterinary Clinic on their property and opened in 1976. With Frankie as office manager, the two ran the clinic until October 1998. He focused his practice on cats, dogs, cows and pigs. He took classes at the Vo-Tech school in Lafayette County to learn computer programming and set up an accounting system for the clinic.

A man of many talents, he built swings and toy boxes for the girls and a dollhouse out of hundreds of hand-hewn wooden shingles. It was good practice when he later designed the new house he and Frankie built in 1983, where he lived until his death. He taught Jill and Susan to ride bikes and hit softballs and neutral dogs. He liked to work outside and tell his daughters to collect sticks so he could mow. He and Frankie maintained a vegetable garden for many years. In the winter, he was bored and wanted something to do with his hands. Frankie put a needle and an embroidery hoop in it, and soon each of the girls had a beautifully embroidered quilt. He has gone to imaginative lengths to keep the magic of Santa Claus alive.

The Nienhisers joined Grace Lutheran Church in Lexington. They attended almost every Sunday and rarely missed a religious event. Among other roles, Cork served as treasurer for decades. He has always been an example of loyalty for his family. He also felt compelled to give back to the community and so ran for the Lexington School Board, where he served three terms.

As he headed towards retirement from veterinary medicine, he returned to his farming roots. He formed C&C Farms with his nephew Cody Schuette, raising cattle. After several years of cultivating together, they each went their own way. Cork switched to grain farming. He really liked the farm. Even after retiring from active farming, he managed farming operations while renting the land.

Cork and Frankie enjoyed traveling during their retirement through the American West, the East Coast and Mexico. They took the kids on an unforgettable 50th birthday trip to Hawaii. His genealogical research led to trips to the Nienhiser’s ancestral homes in Buer, Germany, and Bear Creek, Indiana, where his ancestors first emigrated before coming to Missouri. He kept his hands busy for as long as he could, such as teaching himself via YouTube videos how to recannate chair seats that Frankie’s dad once caned.

Over the past few years, Cork fulfilled his youthful dream of buying a Harley Davidson and soon fell under the influence of a local biker gang. The Old Wild Hogs, based in Lexington, Missouri, were known to ride their motorcycles to local fairs and beer gardens and generally party hard. Cork also had a cultured side, as evidenced by his longtime membership in the elite Lexington POETS Society (“Put Off” Everything, Tomorrow’s Saturday), which met weekly on Fridays for coffee.

He was predeceased by his parents Elmer (1907-1986) and Selma (1912-1995), and his sisters Jeanette Schuette (1937-2012) and Linda Heimsoth (1949-1997). He is survived by his wife of 59 years and nine months, Frankie, of home, daughters Jill Nienhiser (husband Dane Petersen) of Kansas City, Mo. and Susan (Scott) Neer of Lee’s Summit, Mo., grandson- son Zachary Neer, and 11 nieces and nephews.

Visitation was held Monday, July 18, 2022, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Walker-Nadler-Fuller Funeral Home, Lexington. A funeral service was held Tuesday, July 19, 2022 at Grace Lutheran Church, 806 South Business Highway 13, Lexington at 10:00 a.m. Interment followed at Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Blackburn, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Grace Lutheran Church, Friends of the Friendless Animal Rescue and Shelter or a charity of the donor’s choice. Memories and condolences can be left at Arrangements have been entrusted to Walker-Nadler-Fuller Funeral Home, 1720 South Street, Lexington, MO 64067, 660-259-2245.

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