Joseph  Steven “Steve” Whitehair

(Jan. 29, 1948 – Nov. 22, 2021)

Joseph Steven “Steve” Whitehair passed away Monday, November 22, 2021 on his farm in rural Hope, KS. Steve was born on January 29, 1948 in Abilene, KS to Joseph and Ceola (Gatch) Whitehair. Steve grew up around the rural Hope area, settling on the family farm just north of Dillon in the early 1960’s. Steve attended Hope School from 1st grade through senior year of high school. During his school years he made great memories with classmates from the days of riding on the school bus to burning hay bales in his high school years on main street in Hope. These memories made great stories that he shared later in life with family and friends.

Following graduation from Hope High School with the class of 1966, Steve went on to attend Emporia State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1970. Steve worked for Iowa Beef Processors (IBP) for 20 years working at plants in Iowa, Nebraska, Washington, Texas, and Kansas. In 1990 Steve retired from IBP and returned to Hope to help on the family farm where he started his farming career. 

On March 4, 1994 he married Rhonda Swarts gaining a stepson, Justin Schlesener, and together they had a daughter, Jenny Jo Whitehair. In 2002, Steve moved his family out to the family farm, where he called home for the next 19 and a half years. Steve enjoyed attending his daughter’s volleyball, basketball, and softball games all throughout her school years.

In June of 2011, Steve had a double bypass surgery on his heart. While he spent a week recovering in the hospital, neighbors gathered from all over the community to help harvest his wheat crop in just a matter of 2 days, a task that usually would last 5-7 days. The harvest help Steve received in 2011 was a gift he and his family will forever be grateful for. 

Steve’s repaired heart continued to beat for the next 10 and a half years allowing him to share in several special occasions with family. Some of those moments include watching his daughter graduate from high school and college. On May 18, 2019 Steve was able to walk his daughter down the isle for her wedding day and on that same day he officially added a son-in-law, Lance Sherbert, to the family. Together Steve and Lance made a great pair on the farm, as Lance was one of very few individuals who Steve would ask for help from. Steve also enjoyed helping Lance and Jenny do any kind of yard work at their house just down the road from the family farm as long as the John Deere 4020 was needed. He thoroughly enjoyed driving his tractor over to their house, probably more than he enjoyed driving his pickup, even though he frequently stopped by while he was out and about driving. 

He was excited for the newest adventure in his life to begin next year, as his first grandchild is expected to arrive in May of 2022, just in time to help him with wheat harvest this coming summer.

Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Whitehair and Ceola Whitehair Schimming, and father-in-law Charles Swarts.

Steve is survived by his wife of 27 years, Rhonda, of the home, daughter Jenny and husband Lance Sherbert along with Baby Sherbert (arriving in May of 2022) of Hope, KS., stepson Justin Schlesener of Herington, KS., sister Dianne and husband Gene Richart of Nixa, MO., nephews: Nick Richart and his wife Mystic along with their children Westin, Amelia, and Georgia of Clever, MO., and Sam Richart and his wife Kristy along with their children Logan, Brady, and Rylie of Nixa, MO.

It was Steve’s final wish to be cremated with no funeral services. The family would like to gather with friends on Saturday, November 27, 2021 in Navarre, KS at the Navarre Community Building for an afternoon of playing cards and socializing, just like Steve enjoyed doing with his friends throughout the years, starting at 4:00pm. Please bring your choice of beverage, a dish to share, and your best poker face for an afternoon of card games, sharing stories, and reminiscing about time spent with Steve.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Farm Rescue, a not-for-profit organization that helps farmers that have fallen on hard times. Checks maybe sent in care of Martin-Carlson-Becker Funeral Home, or to make a donation in memory of Steve yourself, please visit, click on the donate button on the front page, fill out the donation form accordingly and put ‘Steve Whitehair’ in the “in memorial/ honor of” section.  Online condolences may be sent to 


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