Date Posted: 2008-07-28

Leonard V. Hilton, 82, of Kearney, formerly of Gothenburg, died July 28, 2008 at Kearney.

Visitation will be held Friday, Aug. 1, with the family present at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel, Gothenburg, Nebraska. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2:00 pm at the Zion Lutheran Church, Gothenburg, with Pastor Bill Terry officiating.

Burial will take place in the Gothenburg Cemetery.Survivors include two daughters; Peggy Ronnekamp of Indiana and Penny (Ron) Meyer of Shelton; five grandchildren, Andy (Tabbatha) Ronnekamp, Stephanie Ronnekamp and Travis, Jessica and Tracy Meyer; two great-grandchildren, Zoey and Kaia Ronnekamp; two brothers, Orville Hilton and Marvin (Carol) Hilton and two sisters, Doris (George) Hergenrader and June (Jerry) Walker. Leonard was preceded in death by his wife Virginia, a daughter Patty Jo and a son Doug.

Leonard Vern was born May 10, 1926, at Gothenburg to Elmer and Eva (Keiper) Hilton. He attended School District #51 north of Farnam and Farnam High School. When he was in the tenth grade, his family moved to Lexington, and Leonard finished the tenth grade at the South 17 school. He graduated from Lexington High School in May 1943, where he lettered in track. Leonard was baptized and confirmed April 2, 1942, in the First Presbyterian Church at Lexington.

Leonard was inducted into the Army on May 19, 1945, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and completed basic training at Camp Walters, Texas. He was on the way to Japan when the Peace Treaty was signed, and was re-stationed in Hawaii where he served for 13 months. He obtained the rank of Corporal of the Twenty-third Quartermaster Group. Leonard was discharged from the Army on Nov. 1, 1946, at Camp Beale, Calif. He returned to Nebraska to start farming for himself.

Leonard and Virginia June Buesing were married Aug. 9, 1953, at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Leonard and Virginia had four children - Peggy Jo, Douglas Detlef, Patty Jo and Penny Jo, all born at the Cozad Community Hospital.

Growing up music and baseball were an intricate part of his life. He enjoyed many instruments such as the piano, guitar and especially the accordion. He played his accordion with a local group known as the Hay Valley Boys. Leonard spent his time with his children as they participated in 4-H. Thus he became a member of the Dawson County Fair Board, where he was active for 25 years. As recently as this past week he still took time to enjoy the Dawson County Fair and in helping Scott Wolf park cars. He was a member of the Plum Creekers of Lexington.  Because of their love of horses, Leonard and Virginia were active members of the National Pony Express Association-Nebraska Division (NPEA). He was a dedicated 30-year member of the NPEA-Nebraska Division. One of his most memorable times was the Olympic Torch Run of 1996. He was the President of the Nebraska Division of the National Pony Express Association and organized the riders who would be carrying the torch as it made it's way across Nebraska.  Leonard and Virginia took part in the annual re-rides for the Pony Express. In June, he was able to follow the route for one more time.

Memorials are suggested to the National Pony Express Association - Nebraska Division. Online condolences can be given at