“Noodle King” continues the legacy of his “Queen”
By Amber McIver-Traywick
A 44-year tradition was about to come to an end, until 92-year-old retired farmer, Bob Lebsack, decided to do something about it. It would take rallying a team of family members and volunteers, and hours of hard work, but Bob wasn’t going to let part of his late wife Priscilla’s legacy end on his watch.
The United Methodist Women’s Annual Craft and Food Fair, taking place Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Berthoud United Methodist Church, 820 Ninth Street, has been raising money to help people around the world as part of their mission’s giving for decades. The Lebsack’s contribution to the effort for the last four-plus decades had been to spearhead the effort to make home-made noodles and angel food cakes, which have brought in thousands of dollars to the cause. Priscilla manned the helm and Bob was there to help, along with many other volunteers.
After the 2017 fair Priscilla was ready for retirement and passed the recipes and baton to another woman in the church who had been involved for years, Cheryl Kastle-Fenton. “The last year she was there making the noodles we sat her up in a chair in the middle of the room and she told everyone what and how they needed to do,” Leanna Konechne, a church member and longtime noodle- and cake-baking volunteer reminisced of Priscilla’s effort to keep quality control in order. Sadly, Priscilla passed away in February this year. Then this past August, only a few days before the noodle making was to begin, Cheryl lost her battle with cancer. The loss of both women was felt deeply by the families and the congregation.
No one was prepared to take over the monumental effort of working every Saturday for weeks to make the food that had been such an integral part of the sale. “Noodles had no leader…Priscilla’s family rose up as a unit to keep her legacy alive,” said Konechne of Bob, his children and grandchildren, who all jumped in to help make it happen.
Beginning on Aug. 30 the troops assembled every Saturday for the next four weeks in the basement of the church to dive into flour-covered action. From morning until, as Bob said, “whenever we got done” the Lebsack family and volunteers churned out pounds of noodles and dozens of cakes.
The noodles are a simple recipe passed down to Priscilla from her late sister-in-law, Florence Zeiler. According to the Lebsack’s granddaughter, Erin Coram, who also helped in the effort, Costco was raided of 22 dozen eggs every week, as the noodles take three whole eggs and nine egg yolks per batch. The remaining egg whites are dedicated to making the angel food cakes, “nothing goes to waste,” Bob said. The dough is kneaded into rolls that are sliced, then run through noodle-making machines and left over-night to dry and be bagged.
The amount of noodles and angle food cakes won’t be as numerous as in previous years, according to Bob. “It’ll be about 20% less than before,” as the decision was made to work four Saturdays making the items instead of five, but falling a little short of previous years’ bench mark of 80 cakes and 350 half-pound bags of noodles is still an impressive feat.
When asked what he thought Priscilla might say about the effort to continue the noodle- and cake-making, Bob said with a sparkle in his eye and a laugh, “She’s there in heaven saying you’re doing it wrong.” Granddaughter Erin smiled at the comment and replied, “I think she would be proud we’re carrying on the tradition, continuing her legacy.”
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