Leo Kellner lost his wife of 72 years in 2012. Towards the end of her life, she was struggling with dementia, and this honorable Nebraska man did what he could to be supportive in his love’s final days.
Having spent so many years with his spouse, Kellner felt lost after she passed away.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Kellner told TODAY. “I was moaning and moping, and I said, ‘I’ve got to have something to do,’ and that’s how it started.”
Kellner’s mother was a good baker and he remembered the joy her cooking brought to her friends and family, so the then-93 year old decided to try his hand at the craft. He made an average of a dozen pies a month that first year — 144 in total.
Five years later, Kellner is still baking. It’s his way of staying active and engaged with those he cares for.
“It isn’t because I have to do it, you know?” Kellner explained to the the morning news program. “I do it because I love people.” And people love him for it.
Kellner, having been born in 1918, lived through the great depression and has an intimate understanding of what it means to go through tough times. During those trying days for our country, Kellner’s family lost their farm and travelled from state to state looking for whatever work they could find.
Now the Nebraska man tries to help others who are struggling. He has been in touch with funeral homes and community groups, letting them know that his services are available to those in need.
“I knew what it was to be poor, and a lot of times we just had eggs and flour mixed up together,” remembered the 90-year-old. “So as long as I can do it, I will. A lot of people donate stuff to help; I bake.”
“I do it for everybody… That’s just the way I am.”
In addition to baking for those going through bad times, Kellner does what he can to create good times. He invites people over for tasting parties and he loves to take his culinary creations with him to community events, which he attends as often as possible.
It’s almost as if Kellner has discovered that the fountain of youth is found within a baking pan. The baking keeps him active, engaged, generous, and humble. Best of all, though, all of this cooking keeps Kellner joyful.
“I try to be happy,” Kellner shared. “I place nobody above me, I place nobody below me. I like everybody and I’ve never held a grudge.”
Kellner keeps baking his way into people’s hearts. From helping children learn to carry on the tradition to putting the sweet in bittersweet moments, like providing a cake for a family coming together for a funeral, this nearly 100-year-old baker shows that good citizenship is the best part of being a senior citizen