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Larry J. 'L.J.' Abker

Published on -9/2/2012, 7:04 AM

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Larry J. Abker ("LJ"), 78, Hays, died August 24, 2012, at Hays Medical Center. Larry was born on July 7, 1934 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He attended Geneva High School in Geneva, Nebraska, where he was the star drummer in the GHS band. He graduated from high school in 1951.

Larry continued his education at Nebraska Wesleyan University and belonged to the Theta Chi fraternity. He took an educational "time out" in 1953 for the opportunity to tour with the famous Harry James Orchestra as a drummer. He later completed his degree and in 1956 graduated with a BA in Education, Industrial Arts and Social Studies. He went on to earn a Master of Education degree at the University of Nebraska. From 1958 to 1962, he taught Social Studies and Industrial Arts at Bradshaw High School in Bradshaw, Nebraska. His last two years at BHS was as school Principal. From 1962 until 1965 Larry served as Superintendent of Schools in Bruning, Nebraska. While an educator and school administrator, he continued his education to pursue his Ph.D.

Looking for a new challenge, Larry made a major career change and entered the food service industry by managing a 300-seat restaurant for Kings Food Host in Topeka, Kansas from 1965 to 1968. He later owned three of his own restaurants, known as the Interstate House, located along I-70 in Salina and Wilson, Kansas, and Burlington, Colorado. During his time as a restaurateur, Larry served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Restaurant Association for 17 years and became President in 1989. He was not one to stand idle and to prove this, he and his business partner, Florence Wear, added a catering business to his Burlington restaurant. They catered to famous entertainers such as Tanya Tucker, Charlie Pride, Boxcar Willie, Tim McGraw and Sammy Kershaw as well as numerous other events in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas.

Larry sold his business in 1997 and moved to Hays where he worked for Orschlen Farm & Home and Heartland Lumber Company. His retired years were spent modeling, tinkering in his shop and working with his trains. One of his passions was crossword puzzles and most times would complete several in a day.

Larry is survived by his four sons, Kurt and wife Helen, Lincoln, Nebraska; Steve and wife Shelly, Cranberry, Pennsylvania; Scott and wife Shondra, Mark and wife Karen, Salina, Kansas; six grandchildren and his companion and business partner, Florence Wear, and her family of Hays.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Harvey and Barbara Abker; his first wife Ruby (Vrana) Abker and second wife, Ruth (Lytle) Abker.

Cremation has taken place and private family inurnment will take place in Syracuse, Nebraska, at the gravesite of his parents. Arrangements in care of Brock's North Hill Chapel, 2509 Vine, Hays, KS 67601.

Condolences may be sent by guest book at www.keithleymonuments.com or emailed to keithley@ruraltel.net.

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