Longtime Hastings businessman Larry Rader is being remembered for his attention to detail and a tenacity for serving the city of Hastings.

Rader died Sunday. He was 79.

Services are 10:30 a.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church in Hastings.

Among his engagements, Rader served on the Hastings City Council from 1984-88; Hastings Community Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors; and Head Start Board of Directors from 1994-2002.

He joined his father, Burton, in the family insurance agency.

He is survived by his wife, Judy; two sons; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Rader also was a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church; past president of Professional Insurance Agents; member of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors from 2001-07; president of the Hastings Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors; Sertoma; Eagles; Southern Hills Realtor Board; midget football; and little league baseball.

As a councilman, Rader was one of the founding members of the CRA.

The City Council created the CRA and initially put four City Council members and the mayor on it.

It wasn’t too long before the city changed the composition of the CRA board to appoint community members to the board. Rader continued to serve on the CRA board after he left the council.

“He was a very detail-oriented person, which served him well on the CRA because he used to really go through the state statutes that govern the CRA,” CRA Executive Director Randy Chick said. “He went through those with a fine-tooth comb, looking for ways for our CRA to make things happen.”

Rader also was creative coming up with solutions, Chick said.

“If he discovered something in the statutes that would allow the Hastings CRA to get some things done, and I mean get some things done in a good way, whether that be acquiring property for development or establishing revolving loan funds — whatever it might have been — he was very detailed, but also very creative,” Chick said.

Rader was a firm believer that creating housing could bring people to the community for jobs and help with job creation, Chick said.

“He was instrumental in getting some of the CRA’s involvement with creation of housing, especially for low- to moderate-income individuals,” Chick said.

Rader helped establish the Housing Development Corp. in Hastings.

Hastings businessman Dwight Splitt served on the CRA with Rader for a few years.

The men also worked together on the relocation of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce to its current home at 301 S. Burlington Ave.

“He was a good guy,” Splitt said. “He always had a lot of good ideas. Some we all agreed with and some we didn’t. That’s the way it goes. That’s how we get things done, right?”

He said Rader was influential as a councilman.

“Larry was on the City Council; I wasn’t on the City Council, but I was active in these other things,” he said. “Larry would try to get things pushed through the City Council a lot of times on projects we were trying to get done. One thing I admired about him is he didn’t let things just lay. He forced the City Council to vote on things.”

If Rader could get a motion and a second on a resolution, the council had to vote.

“That’s how Larry was pretty influential in getting things done,” Splitt said. “He just pushed them through there and did a good job of that.”

He said the Hastings Public Schools Foundation was another passion for Rader.

“I know he loved that,” Splitt said. “He worked hard on that. He would get after people to donate to it and try to get funds put together for some of the things they did. Of course he was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska, and he had a lot of interest in it and did a lot of good things for it. I know some people were critical of him when he was on the City Council, but anybody that serves in public office is going to be criticized about things. Larry was always looking forward, looking for the future and trying to grow the town, which is sometimes pretty hard to do.”

Rader could be aggressive in pursuing his projects, Splitt said.

“If he took hold of a project, he was pretty aggressive about getting it going and getting it brought to completion,” he said.

Rader worked closely with Deb Ross, executive director of the Head Start Child and Family Development Program based in Hastings.

He was on the agency’s board when the former Head Start building at 950 S. Burlington Ave. was destroyed in August 1999. Wind shears took off 8,000 square feet of roof, broke open the sprinkler system and filled the building with about 8 inches of water.

Ross estimated Rader volunteered 20 hours a week for an entire year helping her with the business of dealing with the previous building and moving into Head Start’s current home at 123 N. Marian Road.

“He was just amazing,” she said.

Rader meant a lot to her.

“He helped me through so many different things that happened at Head Start, with the building especially,” Ross said. “He was here almost every day at my office. I’m sure he neglected his job selling insurance to help me. He was just a really great guy.”

Ross didn’t know Rader when she asked him to serve on her board.

“I called him up one day and said, ‘You know, Larry, you’re a mover and shaker, and I need you on my board,’ ” she said.

Rader wasn’t sure he would be a good fit.

“He got on, and he never looked back,” she said. “He was an amazing asset to our program and to our board and has been to this day. Whenever I needed anything, all I had to do is call Larry and he would help.”

Judy was always by his side.

“It was Larry and Judy always together,” Ross said.


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