Leopold Aspenleiter


Leo Aspenleiter passed away Friday, April 16, 2021 at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, WA after a lengthy but determined battle against various health issues. Leo was born in Speyer/Speier, Ukraine, South Russia (Soviet Union) on December 16, 1931 to Jakob and Emilie (nee Schanz) Aspenleiter.

Leo married Margaret (Marge) Ridl on August 30, 1956 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in New Hradec, ND, and immediately moved to Spokane to begin 65 years of building their life together and raising their four kids.

Surviving the Holodomor (also known as the “Terror-Famine” or “Great Famine”) and the Bolshevik/Communist regime that killed his grandfather Valentin, father Jakob and numerous other family members, Leo and his mother, Emilie, narrowly escaped Ukraine by way of walking hundreds of kilometers and cattle train with bombs exploding all around them, they finally made it through Poland and into Germany in the middle of WWII.

After the war, but before coming to the USA, Leo had started his training in the printing profession in Ansbach, Germany under the direction of Master Printer Michael Schraut who instilled a certain discipline required to produce a product of the highest quality. In 1951, at the end of four years of training in the printer’s trade, Leo received his diploma in Nuremberg, Germany assigning him as a full-fledged typesetter (“schriftsetzer” in German) and printer.

The year 1951 was about the time that Leo, who now lived in the American zone in Germany, began reading about the United States in German newspapers and magazines. “ I knew from what I heard and read, that the true freedom was in America,” he reminisced. “And, before long I realized there was only one thing to do – come to the United States.”

Leo arrived in New York Harbor on November 17, 1951 where he got his first view of the awesome “Statue of Liberty” which would be the gate to his beginning of a new and prosperous life. Immediately after arriving in the USA and making their way to Mandan, North Dakota by train, Leo, his mother, Emilie, and his sister, Lydia, initially met with Matt and Barbara Geiger who were the sponsors for the three. Barbara Geiger was also Leo’s first cousin. Leo stayed in Mandan for three days, when he found out he could get work on the North Dakota Herold, a German weekly newspaper in Dickinson, ND. He worked there as a proofreader and did editorial writing. He was the author of over 40 articles during the time he worked there and while serving in the army. Leo was a prolific political writer who also wrote many articles for the “Staats-zeitung und Herold” which was a German newspaper in New York City. While in Dickinson, Leo and his family stayed with the Nick and Barabra Muth family south of Dickinson, North Dakota.

After working for the North Dakota Herold for two months, Leo moved back to Mandan where he acquired a job with the Daily Pioneer which was a English daily newspaper. “I certainly learned English fast then,” Leo commented. “There I was setting English type without knowing English.”

About 9 months after coming to the USA, Leo was drafted into the US Army for a two year commitment where he learned much of his English, acquired his US citizenship which he did on November 24, 1953, and learned what being a citizen of a free country was really all about. After an honorable discharge from the US Army Special Forces 1952 to 1958 (2 years active, 4 years reserve) as a Sargeant, Leo made his way to Eastern Washington where his mother was now remarried and living in Burbank. Leo wanted to attend school near where his mother lived, so he set out to find one, “I was soon convinced that Gonzaga would be able to give me the education it takes to be a good, Christian Journalist,” he said. While attending Gonzaga University, Leo would soon find a job working in the university print shop under Fr. Timothy O’Leary. Relatives in Spokane - Margaret and Katie Deutsch family would provide a warm place for Leo to live while attending college.

After spending many years working for the Gonzaga University Press, Leo made an offer to purchase the print shop from the University after the University expressed interest in closing the shop. Starting in 1975, the Gonzaga University Press became “University Press” now owned by Leo and Marge Aspenleiter with most of the family spending many hours working hard helping to make the business a successful one. In 1984, after purchasing two lots for a good deal at the corner and Sharp Ave and Ruby St. and building his own 8,000 sq ft building, University Press moved from the Gonzaga rented building to the new modern building which remained there until 1998 when they closed the business and sold much of the equipment to a Billings, MT printer as well as one in North Idaho. The building was purchased by a developer in Spokane.

Leo continued to work for 18 more years out of his home office as a Graphics Designer with the new business name of “Leo Aspenleiter Graphics Designer” designing calendars, logos and other high quality graphic designs for high tech companies such as Hi-Rel Laboratories.

Leo was preceded in death by his parents, his paternal grandparents Valentin and Magdalena (nee Schaaf) Aspenleiter, his maternal grandparents Michael and Franziska (nee Marsal) Schanz, his sisters, Magdalena Krempin (Aspenleiter), Rosa Lebsack (Aspenleiter), Lydia Henne (Aspenleiter), his brothers, Jakob Aspenleiter and Arthur Aspenleiter.

Leo is survived by his wife, Marge Aspenleiter in Spokane, his children include Barb Huntley (Paul) in Livingston, MT; Rich Aspenleiter (Gayla) in Spokane, and Leo’s granddaughter - Allison (Lucas) Merrill in West Plains, Missouri with Leo’s great grandchildren Kendra Wallin (with Leo’s great-great grandchildren - Paidyn Wallin-Didier and Easton Del Angel) in Pasco, WA, Sophia Grose, Autumn, Emilie, Victoria and Luciana Merrill in West Plains, MO, Leo’s grandson Ryan Aspenleiter in Spokane with Leo’s great grandchildren – Evan and Jordan Aspenleiter in Deer Park, WA, Leo’s granddaughter, Becca Aspenleiter in Spokane, WA; Tim Aspenleiter (Lori) in Spokane, WA with Leo’s granddaughter, Amy Gilbert (Terrance) and Leo’s great grandchildren – Elijah, Kai’Ella and La’Mya Gilbert in Spokane, WA, Leo’s grandson, Jacob Aspenleiter (Kathleen) with Leo’s great grandson, Leo Aspenleiter in Spokane, WA; and Laurie Ann Ward in Spokane, WA.

The family would like to give special thanks to family friend Romana, the Veterans Administration and all the caregivers from Visiting Angels who were so crucial while caring for Leo during his last years of life.

Viewing will take place at Holy Cross Funeral and Cemetery in the Mausoleum located at 7200 N. Wall Street on Tuesday April 27th from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 28th at St. Aloysius Catholic Church 330 E. Boone at 2 pm with a reception to follow. Announcement will be made at the funeral.

Burial will take place Thursday, April 29th at 2:30 pm at Holy Cross Funeral and Cemetery.

The funeral will be streamed here - with a recording made available for those interested.

In lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to Ron Paul Institute for Peace and  Prosperity at,  St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Spokane, Washington or The Spokane Humane Society at in memory of Leo Aspenleiter. Online tributes can be made at

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