Eugene “Gene” Adam Radke, 96, of rural Big Springs passed away Tuesday evening, December 13, 2022 at the Sedgwick County Health Services Nursing Home.
As a lifetime member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, a Mass of Christian Burial will be held for Gene at 10:30 a.m. Monday, December 19, 2022, at Chappell, with Father Bryan Ernest and Deacon Dixon Powers officiating. Services will conclude at the church and inurnment, along with his wife Alice, will take place at a later date at Ash Hollow Cemetery near Lewellen, NE in the spring.
Visitation will be held Sunday afternoon from 3:00 pm. to 5:00 p.m. at the church with a rosary service to be held at 5:00 p.m.
Holechek-Bondegard Funeral Home and Cremations in Chappell is serving the Radke family.
Memorials in Gene’s name can be made to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church or the Big Springs Fire Department.
Gene was born at 7:45am on Sunday, Nov. 21, 1926, at home on his family’s homestead in northeast Deuel County Nebraska. He was the fifth and youngest child of Adam I. and Margueite Carkoske Radke. His birth was attended by Dr. Ostling, and nurse Nettie Jane Kriha.
He attended District 2J through his eighth-grade year at the small country school near their farm. Following grade school, he lived with his brother Al and family, in Elyria, NE for a couple of years, where he attended high school. Gene came back to the farm and completed his high school education in Big Spring, NE, where he lettered in football, and graduated as Valedictorian of the Class of 1943. He was awarded two scholarships, which he forfeited as he was needed on the farm.
Gene was drafted into “Uncle Sam’s Army” and was selected for and attended OCS.
On his 95th birthday, he shared the story with family that although the train didn’t have a scheduled stop in Big Springs, 75 years prior, the train made a special stop at the depot and let the young soldier off in his home town, the day before his 21st birthday. As a 20 year old, Gene returned home from the Army after being honorably discharged.
In 1950, Gene met his “darling” for life, Alice Marie Mussey from Sedgwick, CO. Their date was initiated by both of their best friends. On September 21, 1953, Alice and Gene were united in marriage in the newly built St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Julesburg, CO. Over the next twelve years, they were blessed with seven children, Nancy Marie, Patricia Ann, Susan Kay, Jerome Eugene, Daniel Dean, John Andrew, and Wanda Louise.
His family was his pride and joy! He loved visiting with the kids whether it was about their job, education, a project they were working on, a decision they were considering, or just needing to hear a story. He instilled a strong work ethic in his family, leading by example. He enjoyed when the family came home to the farm for visits, watching the youngest ones learn how to drive on Grandpa’s “popper”. Gene didn’t hesitate for a minute to share stories of the success of his offspring, and the accomplishments of his grandchildren, and now his great grands. He was so very proud of each and every one of them.
As a life-long learner, Gene had a continuous thirst for knowledge. Whether it was the universe and space travels to the depths of the ocean and core of the earth, from the latest research and technology of genetics and new development in the agricultural world to the world of history and mysteries of life over the thousands of years before us.
For nearly 60 years, the family raised certified and registered wheat for sale to growers. He always had interest in wheat test plots, comparing results to recommend the wheat varieties yielding the best results for his customers. Starting with a small seed cleaner, he saw the business grow into a large seed sales organization and portable seed cleaning service that benefited many growers and elevators.
Over the years, Gene served on numerous boards, school District 2J, Deuel Co. Extension Board, Deuel Co. Fair Board, Farmers Union Coop, Farmers Coop Elevator, Nebraska Wheat Growers, High Plains Ag Lab at Sidney, and 5 years on the Nebraska Wheat Board. While on the Wheat Board, he and Alice traveled to national meetings and Gene had the opportunity to travel to South American countries to promote wheat and the high quality of the U.S. wheat producers.
Gene leaves to mourn daughters Nancy Clark (Kelly) of Lincoln, NE, Patricia Dambrava (Linas) of Aurora, CO, Susan Armstrong of Lincoln, NE and Wanda Meredith (Roger) of Havre, MT. Sons Jerry Radke of Big Springs, Dan Radke (Sandra) of Eldridge, IA, and John Radke (DeLois) of Cedar Falls, IA. Sister-in-law Carol Juett (Paul) of Sidney, NE, 15 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.
Gene was preceded in death by his loving wife Alice, parents Adam and Margaret, sister Priscilla (Pat) and husband Zeno Tranel, brothers Al and wife Genevieve, Ray and wife Evelyn, Ira and wife Hazel.