John Leitel, 73, of Moorhead, MN, died February 26, 2023, at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, ND.
John was born in Lincoln, NE and adopted by Eleanore and John “Bud” Leitel of Omaha, NE. He forged a life-long love of chess during his childhood. He studied speech, theater and English while at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska and graduated in 1971. While at Dana, he met Ruth (Jacobsen). John attended Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA from 1971-1975. Ruth and John married in 1972, before he spent a year as a pastoral intern at Clara City, MN.
John and Ruth moved to western ND in 1975, where he was ordained, and served a three-point parish consisting of United Lutheran Church of Almont, Sims Scandinavian Lutheran, and New Salem Presbyterian. Sundays were busy days, and many were spent socializing with families from the churches. The Leitel’s moved to Kansas in 1990, where John was involved in interim preaching. He effectively retired from the ministry in 1996, when the family moved to Moorhead, MN. John became involved in Fargo Moorhead chess clubs where he enjoyed playing games, and teaching techniques to new players.
John was a lifelong member of the US Chess Federation and participated in rated play. He was involved in affiliating the Dubuque Chess Club with USCF in 1972. Over the years, he played many games of postal chess against opponents across the States, and in tournaments in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North Dakota.
Along with chess, John had a love of books, limericks, storytelling, trivia, and crossword puzzles.
John was preceded in death by both parents, nephew George Houdek, and most recently, son Adam Leitel.
Survivors include daughters, Ann Leitel of New Hope, MN and Mary Taylor (Colin) of Vista, CA; son, Micah Leitel of Moorhead, MN; sister, Janis (John) Houdek; niece, Elizabeth Houdek of Omaha, and former wife, Ruth Leitel, of Greeley, CO.
The family wants to thank the Musacchias and Joe McNamara for being such good friends to John over the years, as well as Lilac Homes in Dilworth, MN for providing love, support and community during his brief time there.
A Celebration of John's Life will be held on Monday, April 3, 2023, at 2:00 P.M., with visitation from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M., at Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead, MN.