Greg Elsenpeter dies at age 59

Greg Elsenpeter, a long time area farmer and more recently, a Deacon at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Buffalo, died on February 13 after a four-year battle with cancer.

Last spring, the Maple Lake and Buffalo communities joined together to support Elsenpeter in his fight against cancer with a huge benefit at the Buffalo Civic Center, attended by hundreds of people from throughout the area.

Elsenpeter was also the subject of a Messenger story detailing the holistic treatments he was receiving at the Hospital Santa Monica in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. And he was open in discussing his cancer and his outlook on life and death. In a homily delivered at St. Francis one year ago, he offered the following words:

“As cruel a monster as cancer is, the one thing that it does do for you is buy you time. The truth is, I’ve had a lot more time to prepare for the hereafter than someone who, in the same state of preparedness for example, dies in an accident. My mother, God rest her soul, simply went to bed one night and didn’t wake up the next morning. But I truly believe she was ready. That wouldn’t work for me. And so far, the way I see it, I’ve been given at least three years to be transfigured. If I could manipulate it just right, maybe I could get another three or five. Who knows? What I really feel is that like Peter, the good Lord is giving me every possible opportunity He can to get me to paradise.”

Lois Pahl, secretary at St. Francis, spoke for the church staff in remembering Elsenpeter. “He was a quiet leader,” she said. “Just having his presence in the office, or at a meeting, or at the altar was meaningful. He didn’t have to say anything. His presence was felt just by his being there.”

Pahl said the staff and parishioners admired Elsenpeter’s courage through cancer, his down-to-earth manner, his ability to make people feel at ease and his respect for all. “He never had negative words about other people, and in turn, we never heard anyone say negative things about him,” she said.   “He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.”