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Lawrence R. Zavadil

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CROFTON — Lawrence R. Zavadil, 90, Crofton, died July 17, 2020, at his home on the farm, surrounded by family members.

Visitation was one hour prior to the service Monday, at the church.

Mass of Christian Burial was July 20 at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Crofton, with Rev. Jim Keiter officiating. Services were also live streamed at:

Committal service followed at the Beaver Creek Cemetery in rural Crofton, with military honors provided by the Crofton American Legion Post 128.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz Funeral Home, Crofton.

Lawrence Raymond Zavadil was born Sept. 15, 1929, at the original Zavadil homestead in the Menominee area. He was the eldest of five children of George and Catherine Zavadil (Lawrence, Genevieve, Jerome, Ervin and Daniel). He grew up on the family farm and attended grade school at the one-room Beaver Creek School. He met Mary Ann Van Heek, who was raised on a farm south of Crofton, and they were married Nov. 23, 1953. Lawrence and MaryAnn had seven children, four boys (David, Duane, Larry and Bill) and three girls (Susan, Jean and Judy). Lawrence served in the United States Army and fought in the Korean War achieving the rank of Sargent First Class. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. After the War, he returned to the family farm where he continued to farm until shortly before passing.

Lawrence put his heart and soul into keeping the family farm going through several difficult periods over the years. The farm was recently awarded the Nebraska Pioneer Family Farm Award for being in the family over 120 years.

Lawrence was a great steward of the land and conservationist. He was a member of the Bluebirds across Nebraska Association; planted over 1,000 trees in shelter belts on or near the family farm; constructed terraces to reduce soil erosion; and protected his cattle pasture with a rotation practice not commonly followed. His pasture was studied by the University of Nebraska agriculture department as a model of well-preserved tallgrass prairie. He had a passion for the land and growing things, whether in the fields, his and Mary Ann’s gardens, or the greenhouse. He served for 30 years as a board member of the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District where he was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the Cedar-Knox Rural Water District now used by many farms and towns in the area. He promoted the construction of the Chalkrock and Tatanka Lakes to protect wildlife habitat and provide downstream flood control.

Lawrence had a number of interests other than farming. In his youth, he was an avid baseball player and played for the Menominee baseball team, during which he had the distinction of batting against Bob Gibson, the major league hall of famer who at the time was pitching for Crofton. Later in life, when his boys were old enough to play, he coached a neighborhood baseball team called Beaver Creek, which played local town teams. He also enjoyed riding motorcycles in his younger years and hosted scrambles type motorcycle races in his pasture in the early 1960s. He travelled to Sturgis, S.D., many times to watch the races during rally week before the rally became famous. He also enjoyed the mountains throughout the west, an appreciation he gained through the many trips he and Mary Ann took to visit family there.

He was a creative man, who taught himself enough guitar chords to strum some of his favorite tunes, and was an enthusiastic photographer who had his own darkroom in the basement of his house developing photos before the digital age came around.

Most importantly, Lawrence was a person of honor and integrity, a loving husband, a devoted father and strong supporter of the community and the local Catholic school and church where his children went to school and where he and Mary Ann participated in the liturgy for many years.

Lawrence is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, Crofton; his seven children, 19 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. His children are David (Barbara) Zavadil, Crofton, with grandchildren Clint, Dillon and Jessie, and great-grandchildren, Reagan, Anna, Harper, Zoe, Owen and Hazel; Susan (Russ) Zavadil, Yankton, S.D., with grandchildren Sarah and Beth and great-grandchild, Charlotte; Duane (Glenda) Zavadil, Sedalia, Colo., with grandchildren, Anya, Ben and Thomas, and great-grandchild, Bailey; Larry Zavadil, Littleton, Colo., with grandchildren, Dalton, Griffin and Weston; Jean (Alan) Ryan, Iowa City, Iowa, with grandchildren, Benjamin and Nathan; Judy (Bruno) Zavadil, Dublin, Calif., with grandchildren, Noah and Micah; and Bill (Karla) Zavadil, Omaha, with grandchildren, Daniel, Kelli, Ryan and Joseph; and brother, Daniel, Boise, Idaho.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Ervin and Jerome; his sister, Genevieve; and grandchild, Cody.

Memorials in his memory can be directed to the Beaver Creek Cemetery Association, in care of Duane Guenther, 55153 895 Rd., Crofton, NE 68730.

For those unable to attend the service, please send your written memories of Lawrence to the family.