" Leonard (Len) Alvin Dale Jr., 74, of Olathe, Ks, passed away on January 22, 2024. He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Anne Catherine Dale; his daughter Emily (Dale) Durr and son-in-law Joshua, son Aaron and daughter-in-law Kate; and son Ryan and daughter in-law Tara. Len leaves behind a legacy of joy and love for his family. He is also survived by his beloved granddaughters, Aurora, Nora, Zola, Audrey, Ella, and Luna; and sisters Sharon (and Larry) Morgan, E’Lona (and Jim) McCann, and Yvonne Fernandez. Len was preceded in death by his parents, Leonard Sr and Meta, and his sister Roxanne.
A Celebration of Life service in honor of Len’s life will be held on Monday 02-05-2024 at 11am at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Ks.
Born on May 11th, 1949, in Nebraska, Len spent his life learning about the church through his father, who was a pastor of international outreach. He dearly loved his sisters and they often spoke of their shenanigans. Len graduated in 1967 from Wichita South High School. In 1969 completed St. Johns Junior College in Winfield, Ks. Len was a proud graduate of Concordia Sr. College in 1971. He completed field work at Calvary Lutheran Church in Ferguson, Mo and accepted his first call there to be assistant pastor and youth pastor. First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, NV from 1973-74. In 1975 Len attended Seminary in Exile in St. Louis, Mo. Len went on to earn his Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
On June 26, 1971, Len and Anne married and shared life for over five decades. She knew at Jr. College this was “the” fella, and he has been ever since. Anne shared life with Len in his ministries, his outreaches, and his family. Together they survived the deserts of Nevada, tundra of Minnesota, walked through the arches of St. Louis, found Great People- Great Places- Great Bend, and settled in Kansas City, where activities drew them out and about frequently.
Len was always on the move. His second call was to ministry in Fergus Falls, Minnesota for a dual service to Hope Lutheran Church as pastor and the State Hospital as Chaplain and alcohol and drug counselor. Later he was a professor of political science at the local community college. Len participated in community service activities including the Rotary club. Always a morning person, Len spoke regularly on the radio program, “The Morning Watch.” Len invested in planning and sustaining the Ely and Buyck, Minnesota Boundary Water Canoe Area Ministry. As his sons reached teen years, they went back to the Boundary Waters for a father-son camping experience.
Len and his family moved to Great Bend, Ks in 1988 where he served in pastoral role at Trinity Lutheran Church, where he was caringly called Pastor Lenny. He and the leadership team again shared shenanigans and pranks, including placing one of the pastor’s vehicles in a fenced cul-de-sac so it couldn’t be driven. Always a community-focused individual, he actively served on supervisory boards and within service organizations in Great Bend, including the Boys Home and the Girl’s Home, and the Center for Counseling. Len also taught multiple courses for families and the church community. Len aided with growth in the ELCA by assisting with pastoring and supervising interim pastors for St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Great Bend, and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Galacia, KS.
In 1997, Len transitioned to Olathe, KS, with his family joining in 1998 after the high school graduations of his sons. Olathe would be home for the remainder of his life. He worked within the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Central States Synod as Regional Mission Director. Len transitioned into Associate to the Bishop of the Central States Synod for stewardship and missions. Len continued to play and participate in many events including the National Youth Gatherings of the ELCA and Youth Encounter Servanthood Service events in Kansas City. Len served on the planning committee of Wittenberg English Ministries (WEM) and served two terms in Germany in ministry with the program. Len became part of the Citizen’s Review Board of Olathe and volunteered at events like Ted Talks and The Bridge.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS was his home congregation, where he was ministered to and volunteered to serve others. Following retirement, he continued to invest in the growth of the church. Len served as Interim pastor in Spring Hill, Ks. He shared sermons in many services with churches in the greater Kansas City area. He was the family activities director, and always knew what was happening in the Kansas City Area. His passions were Rock Chalk JAYHAWKS, live concerts of any kind, exploring new restaurants, museums, family gatherings, and family vacations.
Len grew up in a family who shared the faith within multiple countries. Wherever Len traveled around the world, he went “in search of where God was already at work and see how he could join in that work.” To him, it was nothing to make a big “to do” about, instead, it was his faith in action. Len loved multicultural communities. His wife Anne accompanied him in ministry to China, Hong Kong, Germany and Peru. Len’s ministries led him into Japan, Korea, Philippines, Laos, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia and many states in the United States of America. When in Russia for six weeks of faith-based community development, he and his translator stayed with local families and visited house churches, concluding with a fascinating journey East to West through Russia by way of the Tran Siberian Railroad. Len’s visit to the UN as one of 15 NGO’s to sit at a Conference on World Peace was a pinnacle experience. Len and son, Ryan, traveled to Honduras. He and daughter Emily, to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, and Wittenberg, Germany with WEM. He traveled with son Aaron and family to beaches in the United States. As years grew, Len and Anne were able to recreationally travel to England, Wales, Ireland, and surrounding beautiful lands.
In later years, Len found great joy in cooking, and was always thrilled to prepare and introduce new meals to the family and friends. Whether it was Cornish game hens, or eggnog flavored eggs, he experimented in the kitchen-- impressing and surprising those who joined the table. Len loved being silly, he took every opportunity to sneak in a joke, and not just “dad jokes.” Known affectionately as “Papa” to his granddaughters, Len was always there to support them. He attended birthday parties, school events, and sporting events, always sharing his deep pride in his granddaughters. Len had started a recent tradition of delivering gifts to the granddaughters on Valentine’s Day.
As we gather to celebrate Len’s life, let us reflect on the enduring legacy he leaves behind in both the communities he served and the family he so dearly loved. His kindness, joy and fantastic laugh will be remembered fondly. As Len would say, may Peace, Imagination and InnSaei be with you."