Verlon K. “Tony” Vrana, 95, passed away Nov. 8, 2020, in Lincoln. He was born June 25, 1925, to Anton and Florence (Walker) Vrana in Seward.
The family moved to the Vrana farm north of Garland when Tony was 6 years old. He attended Oak Grove country school and graduated from Garland High School. He farmed with his parents until joining the USDA Soil Conservation Service in 1948. He was united in marriage to Elaine Flowerday on June 5, 1949, and they lived in Seward where their four children were born. In 1958, he transferred with SCS to Lincoln, where he also attended UNL. In 1962, he was promoted to the USDA's SCS national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and attended George Washington University, where he received BA and MBA degrees. He advanced to the Senior Executive Service as SCS Associate Deputy Chief for Administration.
Following more than 32 years of federal service, he and Elaine returned to Nebraska where Tony served as director of the Planning Division for the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission for nine years. He then served for three years as executive vice president of the International Soil and Water Conservation Society in Ankeny, Iowa.
Following their time in Iowa, Tony and Elaine returned to Seward and enjoyed wonderful retirement years. He was active in environmental, civic, religious and fraternal organizations. A long-time board member of the Cattle Bank & Trust, he also served several terms on the Seward City Council. He was also proud to be a part of the planning committee for the new Seward Library. He loved interacting with other people and was well respected for his compassionate and common sense approach to various issues. He was recognized with numerous awards including the Masonic Grand Master’s Humanitarian Award, was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and selected for the 2017 Seward County Community Service Award.
Tony and Elaine’s travels took them to all 50 states, most of Europe and North America, as well as China. He took great joy in connecting with locals and fellow travelers. An enthusiastic baseball fan, he was proud of having attended games in every major league ball park.
Tony was always open to learning new things, and this included golf, which he took up during retirement, and technology. He often sat at his computer writing posts for his blog and organizing his many photos. He began writing a daily journal at age 15 and continued it for the rest of his life. He took an interest in current events throughout his life and read two newspapers daily as well as various news magazines.
He was ahead of his time in his dedication to environmental conservation. He was passionate about sustainable agriculture and preservation of native prairies. Beginning with his part-time job at Nebraska Nurseries, when his family was young, he planted many, many trees throughout his life.
He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and will be deeply missed. Tony is survived by his wife of 71 years, Elaine; and their children; Verlon of Richmond, Virginia, Tim (Laura) Vrana of Columbus, Indiana, Carolyn (Ben) Hughes of Seward, and Jon (Mary) Vrana of Burke, Virginia; grandchildren, Julie (John) Owens of Seward, Heather Vrana of Gainesville, Florida, Tony Vrana of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Maggie Vrana of Atlanta, Georgia, and Anna Vrana of Burke, Virginia; great-grandchildren, Sadie and Jack Owens; sister, Janice (Larry) Sorge; sister-in-law, Sondra Vrana; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Vivian Soucek; brothers Jerry, Don and David Gene; brother-in-law, Eddie Soucek; and sister-in-law Gladys Vrana.
Memorial contributions are suggested to Seward Memorial Library or The Center for Rural Affairs. A private graveside service was conducted. Condolences may be left for the family at www.zabkafuneralhome.com.