Inspiration

To Manage His Grief, This 98-Year-Old Started Baking For Those In Need

This is definitely a story that will make you say “awwww.” When 98-year-old Leo Kellner lost his wife of 72 years to complications from dementia in 2012, he was understandably depressed. But then he gave himself purpose in a new way: he started baking pies and cakes—all for people in need.

“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” Kellner told TODAY in an interview. “I was moaning and moping, and I said, ‘I’ve got to have something to do,’ and that’s how it started.”

Kellner, who lives in Hastings, Nebraska, started baking as a way to honor the memories of his wife and his mother, who taught him how to cook. The year he started baking, he made 144 pies for people who were having a hard time.

He reached out to nursing homes, funeral homes and community centers. He got in touch with families and got to know them. And he baked them pies and cakes to soothe their broken hearts and spirits. Plus, his orders are customizable based on preference and allergies. What service!

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“Everybody’s my favorite—I love everybody,” said Kellner. “People that gave me a rough time when things were going hard for me, and I still love them. I’ve since made them cakes and pies. I hold no grudge.”

His cakes and pies have made it much further than just Nebraska, too.

“I’ve got friends from all over,” Kellner said. “I’ve gotten thank-you cards from Alaska, where they’ve attended a funeral for which I’ve furnished a cake.”

Baking has kept Kellner active in his own community as well. He often hosts parties at his home, and naturally, supplies the sweets. He has also taught some of the children in his community to bake in the hopes that they can spread a little sugar (and kindness) elsewhere in their lives.

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“I do it for everybody,” said Kellner. “That’s just the way I am.”