James D. (Jim) Gaeddert, 83, of Moundridge, KS and Leawood, KS, went to his heavenly home on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, after a short stay in the hospital. Jim was the son of Walter and Harriett (Knowles) Gaeddert, both of whom preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by brothers, Richard (Dick) Gaeddert, Allen Gaeddert and Walter Jr. (stillborn), and his high school sweetheart, and wife, Karen (Kaufman) Gaeddert. Survivors include Jim and Karen’s four children and their families; Doug (1959), Greg (1961), Brad (1966), and Janelle (1967), all of whom now mourn his passing but will remember his sense of humor, honesty, integrity, and generosity along with the unconditional love he had for them.
Jim was born on September 20, 1938, and grew up in Moundridge, KS. Jim was baptized on January 8, 1950, and joined West Zion Mennonite Church. He attended Moundridge Grade School and graduated from Moundridge High School in 1956. Jim and Karen attended Bethel College and were married on June 2, 1957, a year into their college education. They moved to Newton, KS at this time and joined Bethel College Mennonite Church. With the support of Karen, and after-hours employment to help feed the family, Jim graduated from Bethel College in 1962 with a BS in Economics and Business Administration.
After college, Jim taught business and driver’s education, and coached football, basketball and track at Overbrook and Hoisington High Schools. He then worked as bookkeeper for Newell Oil Company before transitioning to Hesston Corporation for the next 25 years. Jim started his career at Hesston as office manager, holding several roles in sales and marketing and ended his career as President and COO while living in West Chicago, IL. During Jim’s tenure with Hesston, he traveled extensively, mostly in North America. Highlights of these years included Hesston sales award trips and Hesston’s sponsorship of the National Finals Rodeo when Jim’s or Karen’s parents would stay with the children. He (and mom) also found time during these years to coach his kids in sports, founded Jim’s Honda in Newton, served on the Newton School Board, and co-owned the GO-Mart in Augusta, KS.
Hesston was sold to AGCO in 1991 but Jim elected to stay with Fiat. Jim’s new responsibilities with Fiat took him to New Holland, PA, and a position with Ford New Holland. In 1992, Jim and Karen moved to London where he was named the VP of Commercial Operations (Sales, Marketing and Dealer Management) for New Holland Geotech, a combination of Fiat Ag & Construction equipment and New Holland Ag & construction equipment. While in London, Jim traveled to over thirty different countries, but the travel he and Karen enjoyed the most was visiting their children and grandchildren on trips back to the U.S. Other travel highlights included frequent trips to Japan where he was on the board of New Holland HFT Japan, Inc., a joint venture company owning equipment dealerships, and a couple of special trips with Karen to the Middle East, the Red Negro River in a remote part of Brazil and a memorable South Africa photo safari.
During his career, they lived in North Newton, Overbrook, Hoisington, Newton and Walton, KS, West Chicago and St. Charles, IL, Lancaster, PA, Bella Vista AR, and London, England. They finished their life together in Leawood, KS where Karen was receiving her cancer treatments, eventually succumbing to the disease, and passing away on January 28, 2011.
Jim married Leda Kaufman July 11, 2012, at Rainbow Mennonite Church. Together, Jim and Leda would spend nearly 11 years traveling between their homes in Arizona and Kansas. Jim and Leda’s greatest joy were their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. Together, Jim and Leda have 23 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren. They enjoyed attending sporting events together, and taking in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren activities whenever possible.
Survivors include his wife Leda Kaufman: children, Doug and Lisa Gaeddert of Elkhart, IN, Greg and Terri Gaeddert, Leawood, KS, Brad Gaeddert and Tracy Kruse, Overland Park, KS, and Janelle and Dan Benninghoff of Overland Park, KS: grandchildren, Cheralyn (Jordan) Roseman, Michael (Nada) Gaeddert, Michelle (Nick) Klein, Joel (Crystal) Gaeddert, Aaron (Hannah) Gaeddert, David (Leah) Gaeddert, Luke, Keely, and Mitch Gaeddert, Jessica (Austin) Yeager, Jack (Carley) Benninghoff, Tyler, and Thomas Benninghoff; great grandchildren, Thayer and Maddie Roseman, Collin and Brett Gaeddert, Emmet, Henry, and Eleanor Gaeddert, Brooks Klein, and Banks Benninghoff. Jim is also survived by Leda’s family, with whom he had a strong family connection: Brian Kaufman, Warren and Jerri Kaufman, Sondra and Bob Tolle, Lynelle and Russ Stucky, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton, Kansas at 3:00 in the afternoon. The family requests that memorial gifts be sent to Petersen’s Funeral Home, 215 North Main Street, Newton, Kansas 67114. Contributions should be designated to the James D. & Karen K. Gaeddert Business Scholarship Fund at Bethel College, North Newton, KS, or the Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, KS 67117.