Ida Mary died peacefully at home in Omaha, Nebraska in the presence of her three daughters on July 19, 2023 at the age of 93.
Ida Mary Leistner (Lundsten, Niemeyer) was born on June 12, 1930 to John Everett and Ida Mae Lundsten in St. Paul, Minnesota. She grew up, with her two younger brothers, on a farm in Waconia, Minnesota that was homesteaded by her great grandparents from Sweden.
Ida Mary’s early life was spent entirely on the farm. Her grade school education was entirely in a one room rural school and her high school education was in the nearby small town of about 2,000 people. The Lundsten family attended a small rural Swedish Baptist Church each Sunday even though it meant getting the horses out to pull the car and get it started on the cold Minnesota Sunday mornings during the winter. The “Secret Place” was always read at the table every evening, and the Sunday School lesson was read every Sunday morning at breakfast. Ida Mary was baptized at the age of eleven.
During her adolescent years she began to think about mission work in a foreign land. This dimmed in the round of high school activities in which “being popular and part of the group” seemed to count much more. Not until she entered St. Cloud Teachers College did Ida Mary feel drawn to the religious groups on campus, when her inner rebellion resolved itself into an interest in and seeking after God. She then renewed her plans to serve God on the mission field.
Upon graduation Ida Mary took a teaching position at the Christian Day School in the Philadelphia area. Her experience and association with the sponsor church of the Christian Day School prompted her to prepare for missionary service. After teaching two years she entered seminary in Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ida Mary soon met Johannes (John) Niemeyer, a fellow student at the seminary. A year later, on August 20, 1954, they were married.
While John studied at seminary, Ida Mary taught in the St. Paul School System. Ida Mary and John joined the First Baptist Church of St. Paul and became enthusiastic American Baptists. A year later they moved to Andover Newton Theological School where John earned his B.D. degree while serving a mission church and serving as pastor of an inner-city church in the Roxbury section of Boston. Following John’s study and ordination he was called to serve at Bethel Baptist Church in Powers Lake, North Dakota.
Ida Mary thought of marriage and the mission field as two separate options. After nine months of prayerful thought and conversations Ida Mary realized that God may be very gracious in allowing her to have both. Ida Mary and John were appointed by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) in March of 1961 serve in Japan.
Ida Mary, John and their five children sailed for Japan. They served in Tokyo for a year and then moved to Yokohama. Ida Mary conducted English cooking classes and English conversation classes for the women. John taught English Bible classes, led discussion groups among secular university students, preached in Japanese Sundays in pioneer preaching centers, conducted baptisms and Japanese weddings, and presented Bible lectures at Missionary Conference.
In June of 1966 the Niemeyer family returned to the United States. In 1970, Ida Mary and John officially resigned from service with ABFMS. At that time, they lived in Omaha, Nebraska.
On February 6, 1971, John passed away of cancer leaving Ida Mary a widow with five children. God lovingly provided Joseph (Joe) Leistner to be Ida Mary’s husband of the next 32 years of her life. They were married on July 2, 1971. They went on many travels together, including trips to Israel, Egypt, Italy, Puerto Rico and many trips around the US, Canada, and Alaska. Joe passed away on November 15, 2003, making Ida Mary a widow again.
Throughout her life, she served many churches in North Dakota; Boston, Massachusetts; and Omaha, Nebraska. She shared her gifts of piano and spent over 20 years leading a sing-along ministry at Maple Crest Nursing Home in Omaha, Nebraska. Additionally, she enjoyed listening to birds in her backyard and she was a wonderful cook and baker, always making sure that everyone had enough to eat.
Ida Mary was preceded in death by her younger brothers, John Everett Lundsten and David Warren Lundsten.
Ida Mary is survived by her 5 children: John Peter, Mark Harm, Elizabeth Joy (“Betsy”), Mary Johanna, and Susan Grace. She was also blessed with 9 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
The funeral service for Ida Mary was held on July 25, 2023 in Omaha, Nebraska.