Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Wolfgang Luehne


Wolfgang Luehne, 77, passed away at his residence in Thermopolis, Thursday,

May 12, 2016, after a valiant battle with cancer.

Born November 9, 1938, in Steienebach, Bavaria-Germany, Wolfgang was the son of Egon and Irmgard (Michael) Luehne. As a youth he finished schooling at the young age of 17. In 1955 he attended a carpentry trade school and then in1957 he enlisted in the German Military. Wolfgang became a sergeant in the German Mountain Patrol division.

In 1960 Wolfgang came to the United States to visit his brother Manfred Luehne who was living in Denver, Colo. While he was in Denver he met the love of his life Christine Leyba. He knew instantly that Christine was his soul mate. Wolfgang was always a husband and father first and foremost. He made many sacrifices to provide for his family's needs. Through his and Christine's guidance his children learned that hard work would lead to success. Wolfgang was generous and kind to everyone he knew. His good deeds will be remembered by those lives he touched.

Wolfgang's first job in America was working at the world famous Brown Palace in Denver. He worked as a machinist at Denver Power engineering. He worked from the bottom up to a supervisory position.

In 1972 Wolfgang visited Thermopolis with his family on vacation. He quickly fell in love with Star Plunge and bought it in 1975. Wolfgang moved his family to Thermopolis and started to change the face of the Star Plunge. Wolfgang added a roof over the indoor pool, jackhammered out a hot tub and blasted out a new vapor cave. He changed a summer destination to a year round destination. In 1982, he built Wyoming's first water slide and the third longest water slide of its kind in the world. In 1987 he built the hydro tube slide and, in 1989, the little dipper. The Arapahoe and Shoshoni Indians had a spiritual connection with Wolfgang.

Wolfgang lived the American dream. With his hard work and devotion, he provided for his family and did a great service for the community. His work has brought much joy to the millions of swimmers that have visited the Star Plunge. Even though Wolfgang's earthly life has ended, the legacy he left behind will bring enjoyment to many visitors to the Star Plunge for future generations.

Loved ones who grieve his loss include his wife of 55 years, Christine Luehne of Thermopolis; Mark (Cindy) Leyba of Havre, Mont., Carl (Karen) Leyba, Leila (Daniel) Porath, Rose Leyba and Roland Luehne; brother, Manfred Luehne of Centennial, Colo .; sister Christa Sissmeir of Munich, Germany; and eight grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his brother, Siegfried K Luehne; and grandson, Michael Porath.

The Mass of Christian Burial was held Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at St. Francis Catholic Church with Father Hugo Blotsky, OSB, officiating. Graveside services followed at Monument Hill Cemetery. A Parish Vigil was held Monday evening at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Michael Porath Aviation Scholarship Fund at Pinnacle Bank in Thermopolis.

Mortimore Funeral Home is assisting the family. Online condolences/remembrances may be expressed at


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