Mervell D. Bumgarner: 1923-2015
“Merv” bought his last cattle when he was 90. His children were ready to head to South Dakota with him. However, he ended up in the hospital. That didn’t stop him. He bought them from the hospital bed, and made a killing on them. Clearly, “Merv” loved the cattle business and all that came with it. For the past 50 years, his smiling face was on the seats at many of the area sale barns. In about 1960, he had started buying cattle for other people, making friends in many states.
Mervell Dwayne Bumgarner was born Dec. 5, 1923, on the family farm in Strang, Nebraska, to Ellis (Kitty) and Ethel (Rocole) Bumgarner. He passed away Sept. 4, 2015, at Heritage Crossings. He attended K-12 school in Strang, graduating in 1941.
Mervell served in the Navy from 1944-1946. After attending Radio School at Madison, Wisconsin, he was a radioman 2nd class when he was discharged after serving on the USS Oceanus. He was proud to have gone to the Navy with his longtime friend, Earl Houck, and he told how he was able to tether to Earl’s ship to spend time with him.
Mervell married Betty Lou Caton Aug. 15, 1948 at the Congregational Church in Geneva, Nebraska. He was a member there for over 60 years, and this was where they celebrated their 50th anniversary. They had three daughters and one son.
At an early age, he began to work with cattle, and became more involved rapidly. He and son, Tom, started Bumgarner Land and Cattle Company in 1973. This feedlot operation was expanded on two different occasions. Mervell was a member of “Feeders and Breeders” for over 50 years.
“Merv” attended his first University of Nebraska football game in 1962 and had season tickets ever since. In the following years he developed a passion for football and enjoyed a group of friends consisting of five couples and Deb Oman, known as Football Unlimited. They traveled to many away games and met before and after every home game.
Mervell was a charter member of VFW Post 7102 in Geneva, Nebraska. He was a member of the American Legion and a 50 year member of the Masonic Lodge #79. Besides serving as Master of the Lodge, he had the privilege of helping lay the cornerstone for the present Masonic Temple, and conferred the Maser Degree on his son, Tom. He was a member of the Scottish Rite, Sesostris Temple, Jesters, the Royal Order of Scotland, and Eastern Star for over 50 years.
Anyone that was close friends with “Merv” knew that he was all about relationships. If you bantered back and forth with him, you had a friend forever. He and his wife, Betty, had an open door policy. People of all ages were welcome at any time, and usually heard some great stories. Even in his 90’s, he loved to take folks on a tour in the country.
God, Country, Family and Self: This was the motto “Merv” kept with him at all times in his vehicle. He certainly lived it for 91 years—a great way to have lived an amazing life.
He always said that the best thing he ever did was to marry Betty. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, his parents, and his brother, Russell.
He leaves behind his children, Charlotte Bumgarner, Geneva, Nebraska, Carolyn (Bumgarner) and Doug Lees, Grand Island, Nebraska, Thomas and Vicki Bumgarner, Geneva, Nebraska, and Sharon (Bumgarner) and Jerry Lauber, Geneva, Nebraska, and many grandchildren.
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