Richard T. Lackaff, 93
Richard Torpin Lackaff was born June 21, 1925, to Floyd and Mildred (Torpin) Lackaff in his maternal grandparents’ home in Oakdale, NE, and died July 9, 2018, at Rock County Hospital in Bassett, NE. His name honors his mother’s family tradition of naming the first-born son in each generation after their English immigrant ancestor, Richard Torpin.
Richard and his sister Ramona, four and a half years older, grew up on the Hereford cattle ranch their paternal grandparents homesteaded in central Rock County. At age five, he started first grade at Pleasant Hill District No. 9, the same country school his father had attended. Growing up, he worked in the hayfield and was active in 4-H. In 1937, he participated in the first Keya Paha-Brown-Rock County (KBR) Calf Show and Sale at Bassett.
He was selected by the American Legion to represent Rock County at Boys State in Lincoln in 1941. Boxing was his sport. He participated in Golden Gloves when he was sixteen, the earliest eligible age, and won the Golden Gloves Featherweight Championship in Norfolk in 1942.
Richard graduated from Rock County High School in the spring of 1942. That fall he enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, completing one year before being drafted into the Army in the fall of 1943. In May of 1944, he sailed from San Francisco for the Island of New Caledonia, the U. S. military replacement depot for the South Pacific during World War II. Assigned to Leyte Island in the Philippines, he became a clerk in the office that procured and distributed supplies and equipment for all U.S. battalions in the area. When the master sergeant was discharged, Richard found himself heading the department as a nineteen-year-old corporal.
While he was in the Philippines, his father and mother divorced and his father remarried. When the war ended in 1945, Richard sailed back to California. Floyd and his second wife, Maude Derrick Lackaff, were waiting in Los Angeles to meet his ship and bring him home.
Once back in Nebraska, Richard resumed ranching with his father. He also took advantage of the G.I. Bill, but not to return to college. He signed up for flying lessons and bought a yellow Piper Cub which he soon traded for a green Super Cub that he used for the next three decades.
Richard married Genevieve Dillon on November 22, 1947, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Long Pine, NE. Their daughter, Deänna Susan Lackaff, was born December 7, 1948, and their son, Richard Hall Lackaff, was born September 3, 1952.
Over the years, Richard T. Lackaff took on many leadership roles in the cattle industry. He served as president of the Sandhills Cattle Association, the Nebraska Stock Growers Association, the North Central Nebraska Hereford Association, and the KBR Calf Show Association. He was a member of the board of directors of the American National Cattlemen’s Association and active in both the Nebraska and American Hereford Associations.
Richard served two terms on the state Judicial Nominating Committee and two terms on the Nebraska Brand Committee. He was a director of the Valentine Production Credit Association and an active member of The Sandhills Task Force.
He served on the University of Nebraska, College of Agriculture Advisory Committee. He is past grand knight of the Father Barry Council of the Knights of Columbus and a member of Bassett American Legion Post 123.
In 1959, Richard’s love of Western history and art came together when he became a charter member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center which opened in Oklahoma City in 1965. He represented Nebraska on the board of directors for many years before being named director emeritus.
When Floyd and Maude Lackaff retired from active management of the Bassett Lodge and Range Café, Richard took on that responsibility as well. The lobby and other public spaces of the hotel provided the perfect backdrop to display his collection of Western art and antiques. He and Genevieve ended the Lackaff family’s involvement with the hotel on December 31, 2004.
Always interested in family history, Richard was pleased near the end of his life to receive dual citizenship from Luxembourg, the original home of his immigrant ancestor, the homesteader John Peter Lackaff. He had earlier become a member of the Mayflower Society through descent from William Brewster.
Richard Torpin Lackaff is survived by his wife, Genevieve Dillon Lackaff; daughter, Deänna (Michael Gilligan) Lackaff of Minneapolis, MN; son Richard H. (Lora Beckley) Lackaff, DVM of Bassett; grandchildren, Derek (Angela Wacker) Lackaff of Burlington, NC, Anna (Aaron Santos) Lackaff of Indianola, IA, Caleb (fiancée Macey Moore) Lackaff of Bassett, and Adam and Kevin Lackaff-Gilligan of Minneapolis; great-grandson, Oscar Wacker Lackaff of Burlington; brother-in-law, James O. “Red” Hacker of Sanger, CA; cousin, Michael Louis Lackaff of Downers Grove, IL; and nephews, Rodney Hacker of California, Michael Hacker of California, and Casey Hacker of Thailand; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews in his extended Torpin and Dillon families.
He was predeceased by his parents; step-mother; sister, Ramona (Lackaff) Hacker; and nephew, James O. Hacker, Jr.
Funeral services were held on July 13, 2018 at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bassett. Father Phil Flott and Father Lou Nollette served as Celebrants. Music was provided by Anna Lackaff. Music selections were “Amazing Grace,” “Faith of Our Fathers,” Abide With Me” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.” Pallbearers were Jim Frizzell, Gary Bussinger, Dennis Jilg, Mike Nolles, Kent Smith and Dale Sybrant. Readings were provided by Dave Sybrant. Honorary bearers were all of Rich’s other neighbors. Burial followed at the Grandview Cemetery in Long Pine with Military Honors being provided by the Bassett American Legion Post #123. Hoch Funeral Home of Bassett was in charge of the arrangements. A visitation with Rosary Prayer Service was held at the Holy Cross Catholic Church on July 12, 2018.