Roder Lee Nyberg, 95 (and one day), of Chillicothe, passed peacefully on July 20, 2023. Roder was born in Phillipsburg on July 19, 1928 to Gertrude Barnes and Lloyd Nyberg.
The second-eldest of six siblings, Roder grew up on his family’s farm and lived his early years of life through The Great Depression. As a child, Roder showed great determination and energy and throughout his life fearlessly took on many challenges. Roder began the first grade at the age of four because his older brother did not want to make the two-mile walk to the Possum Trot country school on his own. With cousins, Roder shot and sold rabbits and raised tomatoes to earn money while still helping run the farm.
Roder was baptized as a teenager at White Oak Pond Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Lebanon. Roder loved to learn and was an excellent student. Upon graduating from Lebanon High School in 1945, at the age of 17, Roder joined the United States Army and was sent to Korea, serving as a Staff Sergeant in charge of the post office base in Incheon, South Korea at 18 years old. After his service, Roder used the GI Bill to attend college and received his Bachelor’s Degree in education from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield and later a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Roder worked as an educator in Ironton and Jefferson City before spending the majority of his career and service in Chillicothe. Roder dedicated the bulk of his professional life to young people – his hope was for them to be equipped to serve in needed careers and have the opportunity to support themselves well. Vocational education was his great passion and Roder pioneered a successful path in this new area of education that has been continually replicated by his successors in the field. With that vision in mind, Roder researched, promoted a bond issue, recruited professionals, created curriculum, obtained equipment, and opened the Chillicothe Area Vocational-Technical School in 1967. He remained close friends throughout his lifetime with the individuals who taught and administrated the school with him through those early years. He served as Director of the school until his retirement in 1989 and was able to see the fruits of his labor and contribution to the community for the rest of his life. He was known as a motivated innovator who loved people and sincerely, humbly cared for others. In 1989 he was the Missouri State Teacher’s Association Northwest District Educator of the Year and served on many state and local education committees throughout his lifetime.
Roder was athletic and loved to travel, have adventures, and experience new things. As a young man he played high school basketball and remained a lifelong fan. He loved the clear streams of the Ozarks and was an avid fisherman who enjoyed fishing within the state as well as taking trips to Canada with friends. Roder spent countless hours on the greens playing golf and enjoyed both the sport and the camaraderie. Roder had a sharp mind and quick laugh and loved a good competition.
Roder loved his family and was a dedicated and loving husband, father and grandfather. In his early adulthood, Roder married Virginia Little and three children were born to the couple. In 1981, Roder married Jonalyn Findley and became a beloved stepfather to her three children as well. Roder was known to his family as a reliable, kind, wise, and generous man who was genuinely interested and invested in his loved ones. He loved to have fun, bait fishhooks, take boat rides, and play games. He could always be counted on to bring out his beloved Cribbage board to meet a challenger.
He is survived by his wife, Jonalyn of the home; three children, Jonathan L. Nyberg of Columbia, Susan Dumond of Webb City and Janet Spiers of Des Moines, IA; two stepchildren, Kelly Spainhour and husband, Claude and Andrea Runyon and husband, Steve; five grandchildren, Ginny Andrews and husband, Brad, Sarah Malcolm and husband, Alex, Emma Sayers and husband, Josh, Nicole Bryson and Richard Nyberg; fourteen great-grandchildren; brother-in-law, Roger Baugher and wife, Angie; sister-in-law, Norma Nyberg; and several nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents; stepson, Jonathan Findley; grandchildren, Michael Nyberg and Melissa Spiers; brothers, Morris Nyberg and Kenneth Nyberg; and sisters, Lanora, Loyce and Mary Jo.
Memorial Services will be held at the United Methodist Church in Chillicothe on Thursday, July 27, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. A scheduled visitation will be held at 1:00 p.m., one hour prior to the service. A private family inurnment will be held at a later date at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Phillipsburg. Friends may call at the Lindley Funeral Home in Chillicothe on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to House of Prayer Meal Program and/or YMCA Backpack Buddies and may be left at or mailed to Lindley Funeral Home, PO. Box 47, Chillicothe, MO 64601. Online condolences may be made at www.lindleyfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Lindley Funeral Home in Chillicothe.