As a businessman, community leader and family man, Ed Lightner could be counted on to follow through on his promises.
“He’s done a lot for the community and for the people he came in contact with and worked with,” said Roger Larson, a friend of Lightner and fellow member of Second Presbyterian Church of Hastings.
Lightner died Monday at age 96.
A lifelong resident of Hastings and one of eight children, Lightner spent much of his life as a young man working various jobs to support his family through the Great Depression. He attended Lincoln Elementary and Hastings Junior and Senior high schools. He worked for the Burlington Railroad in Lincoln beginning in 1942 and was also a railroad brakeman and dispatcher at the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot outside Hastings during World War II.
After the war, Lightner attended auctioneers school in Sioux City, Iowa, and real estate school in Lincoln. He secured his real estate license and returned home to Hastings to start Lightner’s Auction House at 216 S. Hastings Ave. in 1946. He hosted weekly auctions and conducted real estate and farm sales throughout the area.
Just after starting the business, he was approached by neighbors about joining the Adams County Board of Supervisors and was initially uninterested.
However, he was persuaded to run his first campaign in 1950 and his involvement on the county board became one of the strongest avenues through which he impacted the Hastings community.
Lightner served eight, four-year terms on the county board, heading several projects and earning a reputation for courteous community service and attention to detail. He was chairman of the board for 18 of his 32 years of service.
“I always respected his views and the way he conducted business and meetings,” said Anita Hawes, longtime Adams County clerk who worked with Lightner throughout his tenure as a supervisor. “You could tell that he loved what he did. He was always interested in what was best for the county.”
Larson was employed with the Adams County roads department when Lightner was on the county board of supervisors. Larson remembers Lightner taking time to express his appreciation for county employees and work with them to create positive change.
“He was a very well-respected supervisor and he took his job very seriously. He liked to take care of his people and the people who worked for the county,” Larson said.
“He tried to make sure that everyone’s opinion was heard, and I respected him for that. He always listened to you. It was a pleasure to work with him,” Hawes said.