Milton R. Peine, age 98, died peacefully at home on January 30, 2021.
Milt was born on June 21, 1922, to Arno and Julia (Hoffman) Peine in Mount Olive, Illinois. When he was five, his father died, so he and his mother moved to Batavia, Illinois, where she worked as a housekeeper to support herself and young Milt. When Milt was legally of age, he enlisted and was deployed to fight in WWII.
During the war, Milt served his country as a Medical Technician. He was the last surviving member of the 819th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron (MAES), a squadron of heroes that assisted in evacuating the wounded from the battlefields in various types of aircraft, beginning with the Normandy invasion through the end of war following Patton’s 3rd Army into Germany. He was awarded the “Air Medal” for his service.
After the war and upon his return to Batavia, he enrolled in mortuary school and got a job at Johnsons Funeral Home. Soon after, he met Norma Thiele. She was 19 and he was 24, and she will tell you that he always gave her flowers (then he would whisper they were left over from the funerals). They married in the spring of 1947.
Milt and Norma had four children: Linda, Steven, James, and Ronald. After some time, Milt switched careers – from funeral homes to life insurance. In 1967 his job relocated the family to Kansas City, and in 1985 he retired after 30 years as a District Manager from The Prudential.
Milt’s life was rich. He was a 60+ year member of Bethany Lutheran Church, served on the Board of Community Living Opportunities (CLO), and until the age of 96 he played golf and tennis on a weekly basis. He delivered Meals on Wheels every Friday afternoon, often to people 20 years his junior. His mind was sharp until days before his death, he loved crossword puzzles and books, told a lot of jokes, and loved a good slice of French silk pie. There was always an animal on his front stoop waiting for a treat, or one of his ‘grand dogs’ on his lap. He was a loyal Kansas City Chiefs and Royals fan.
Of all of his accomplishments, however, Milt’s legacy will not be his service to his country, his community, or his career. It will be his role as a Husband, Father, Grandfather and Friend. He was worthy of emulation. His sparkly blue eyes lit up a room, and he was a constant presence when it mattered the most: sports games, recitals, graduations, weddings, baptisms, any occasion worth celebration. Milt’s lifelong devotion to Steve, his son with Down Syndrome who preceded him in death, was a love story for the ages and it is their reunion in Heaven that’s helped ease the pain of his death.
Milt is survived by his wife, Norma Peine, who held Milty’s hand until the very end. His children: Linda (Peine) and Will Lewis of Leawood, KS; Jim and Cindy Peine, and Ron and Becky Peine, all of Overland Park, KS, his seven grandchildren: Matthew Lewis (Michelle), Austin Lewis, Courtney Reagan (Tom), Andrew Peine (Taryn), Emily Rundle (Brett), Alan Peine, and Mitchell Peine, and his 13 great-grandchildren: William, Jake, Hunter, Carter, Fisher, Bryer, Graham, Palmer, Murphy, Henry, Amelia, Harper and Lyla.
Milt’s generation is often called the Greatest Generation; a generation of men and women who didn’t do things for fame or recognition, but only because it was the right thing to do. Ask anyone who knew Milt Peine, and they’ll tell you this is most certainly true.
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