Leo “Sonny” Albrecht of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, passed away at the Lutheran Home in Belle Plaine on Friday night, September 13, 2019, with his family by his side. Memorial Mass will be on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church, Belle Plaine, MN. Visitation will be at the Kolden Funeral Home on Tuesday from 4:00 p.m. ~ 8:00 p.m. There will be a Veterans Service and Firemen’s Service at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will continue on Wednesday morning at the church from 9:30 a.m. to Mass time. There will also be a 9:45 a.m. K.C. Rosary at church on Wednesday morning. Fr. Brian Lynch will officiate the services. Lunch to follow Veterans Honors outside of church following Mass
Leo was born on February 20, 1929 in his Uncle Harold’s house on Meridian Street in Belle Plaine to Leo and Angela (Quast) Albrecht. He was baptized at Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church where he became a lifelong member. He attended Belle Plaine High School until the 10th grade, after which his father, Leo Sr., coaxed him into traveling with him on the family circus. Leo was a skilled stage builder (he once built an entire stage using only a hammer, nails, and a handsaw) magician, dog and pony trainer, and MC. Working as an aircraft mechanic, Leo served in the U.S. Navy for 4 years, from 1950 to 1954, where he attained the rank of Petty Officer, Second Class.
He met his future wife, Gloria (a gifted aerialist and singer) in 1947 on her grandfather, Jay Gould’s, travelling circus, and they married in Hawaii in 1953. The circus life took the happy couple all across the United States until 1959, at which time they settled in Belle Plaine to raise their 6 children. Leo then began a career with Keup Motors where he was quickly promoted to Service Manager, and stayed with the company for 35 years. Soon after his retirement from Keup’s - and never one to be idle - Leo went on to drive school bus the next 20 years for Stier Transportation Services. He loved that job nearly as much as he loved his family.
Throughout his working years, Leo contributed his time and talents serving in a number of Belle Plaine organizations: City Councilman, Park Board (overseeing the skating rink), Grand Knights of Columbus, 4 years as Fire Chief, Building Committee Chairman (City Hall), and President of the Belle Plaine Historical Society, among others. Leo and Gloria also directed the BBQ Days Poolside and Family Shows, which included planning, performing, scriptwriting, and contracting talent.
In the roll of Town Historian, he wrote and published, “The History of Belle Plaine - 150 Years” and “The History of Belle Plaine in Pictures” with over 1100 images, in a span of 4 years. Upon completion of these works, he generously donated all of the proceeds to the Belle Plaine Historical Society. Leo and Gloria served as contributing members of the Belle Plaine Historical Society for nearly 50 years. Much of their circus memorabilia is on display at the Red Barn Museum today.
Personal projects and hobbies included, researching and creating extended family genealogies for relatives and friends in Belle Plaine and the surrounding cities, woodworking (specializing in miniature circus wagons), and traveling. However, most importantly, he cherished spending time with his family. Leo and Gloria loved to travel, and did so extensively, both throughout the United States and abroad. Many of their overseas trips were awarded to him for his outstanding service while working for Keup Motors.
Leo is survived by Gloria, his wife of 66 years; children Michael (Deb Hamilton) of Belle Plaine, Theresa (George) Stone of Belle Plaine, Thomas (Brenda) of San Diego, California, Dale (LeAnn) of Harpswell, Maine, Mary (John) Stier of Belle Plaine, and Joseph of Belle Plaine; grandchildren Ben (Holly) Stier, Angie Stier (James), Ian, Jennie (Jared) Currie, Linsey, Kyle, Dylan, Allen West and Jillian Stone (Jake Rasmusen); 15 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great grandchildren; by sister-in-law Arlene Albrecht of Blakeley; by brother-in-law Pete Stibal of Burnsville; and by first cousin, Rosemary Albrecht of Minneapolis.
Leo is preceded in death by his parents, Leo and Angela, brothers David and Gary, and his first grandson, Adrian.