Shad Gager of Table Rock, Nebraska was born to Lebanese immigrant parents on November 5, 1933 in Kearney, Nebraska and passed away unexpectedly on April 14, 2023 at the age of 89. Shad was a builder of things and people who loved his family, community, country, and God.
As a youth he grew up farming on the family farm, then outside Kearney city limits roughly bounded by the Union Pacific Railroad main line, aka the transcontinental railroad, on the north and Interstate 80 on the south. It was there Shad was first exposed to serving others by his parents, sharing the harvest with hobos during the Great Depression and working side by side with German POWs during WWII. The Trails and Rails Museum is located on the site of the farmhouse and outbuildings. While in Kearney, under the watchful eye of his dad, Shad helped construct irrigation ditches and the St. George Greek Orthodox Christian Church.
After moving from Kearney with his family to Miami, Florida in his teens, Shad graduated from Miami Senior High School and with his earnings as a paper boy for the Miami Herald Newspaper, returned to Nebraska to attend the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where he earned a degree in agriculture. Many a story was told how his car with Nebraska plates was egged and plastered with tomatoes when he parked in front of his parent’s house that he helped build, within eye site of the old Orange Bowl stadium. He was an avid Husker fan and attended games each year, including several bowl games.
While in college Shad returned to Minden, Nebraska during the summers to work on a farm and helped build the main building for Pioneer Village which became one of the top 10 travel stops in the country before the Interstate highway system rerouted traffic.
After college, Shad served in the United States Army. Upon receiving his honorable discharge, he taught high school vocational agriculture for eight years, which included a time in Table Rock, before joining the USDA Farmers Home Administration and later private banks, returning to his adopted home town, and retiring from the State Bank of Table Rock. During his professional career Shad prided himself on guiding young farmers and supporting rural communities. While in Table Rock, he sanded and finished the beams over the school gym and built his retirement home.
On November 24, 1963, Shad was united in marriage to the love of his life Lois Layden at the United Methodist Church in Table Rock. To this union two sons, Jim and Alan, were born. The couple also served as foster parents to 13 foster children. Many times, Shad took odd jobs to provide for his family and in so doing set an example of the rewards hard work and perseverance can bring. He also realized the importance of taking time to help with children's activities by serving as a Sunday School teacher, 4-H and Cub Scout leader, coach, camp counselor, chaperone, and many behind the scene activities. In later life, Shad set the gold standard for caring for his wife of over 50 years. We can only hope we lived up to his high benchmark when caring for him in his elder years.
Shad believed in community spirit and engagement setting a North Star example for us to follow. He was a 75 plus year member of the United Methodist Church serving in many roles, a Mason, a Shriner, member of Eastern Star, Knights Templar, York Right, Gideons, and Agmen Fraternity, the American Legion serving in the honor guard and firing squad, the Table Rock Community Club, Table Rock Board of Alderman, and the Senior Center. For many years Shad put up the flags around the Table Rock square, participated in Table Rock Living History Day activities, promoted the Table Rock Historical Society, served as the Table Rock cemetery grounds keeper, and coordinated annual community Thanksgiving dinners. While living in Oakley, Kansas he oversaw the local 4-H club installation of a concrete tennis/basketball court and in Iola, Kansas as a member of the Lions Club, he participated in demolition and reconstruction of the band stand on the courthouse square. Along the journey Shad completed many maintenance projects for not-for-profit organizations. In later life, his passions were delivering funeral notices so the departed are not forgotten and delivering Meals on Wheels to home bound seniors, especially during COVID 19. Slowing down was never his style. Shad truly enjoyed woodworking in his younger years and later being outside, watching and listening to birds, and gardening. Inspire TV sustained him during the winter months.
Shad is survived by his two sons and daughters-in-law, Jim (Charlene) and Alan (Claire); three grandchildren Matthew (Shelby), Michelle, and Jean; sister Katy; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in life after death by his wife Lois; his parents Elias and Mary; four siblings and their spouses Lem (Yvonne), Sophia (Jerry), Carem (Juanita), Anthony (Joanne); and brother-in-law Tom.
A Celebration of Shad’s Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the United Methodist Church in Table Rock with Pastor Dorothy Smith officiating. A link to the livestream of Shad's service, is now available on the bottom of Shad's webpage.
Visitation will be held from noon-8 p.m. on Friday, April 21, 2023, at the United Methodist Church in Table Rock. Family will greet friends from 6-8 p.m. and Masonic, Eastern Star and Gideon Rites will be conducted at 7 p.m. at the church.
Interment will immediately follow services at the Table Rock Cemetery with full military honors conducted by the Brown-Hays Legion Post #289 and the Nebraska Army Honor Guard.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Table Rock Senior Center or Pawnee County Medical Foundation.
Condolences can be shared online at www.wherrymortuary.com.
Services entrusted to Wherry Mortuary-207 N. Nemaha Street-Humboldt, NE 68376 (402) 862-2915.
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