Vrana honored for years of service


You don’t meet very many people who are as genuine and humble as Verlon “Tony” and Elaine Vrana. The long-time Seward couple was recognized at the Seward Fourth of July Kick-Off celebration in June as Tony was surprised with the Seward County Community Service Award.

“He about fell off of his chair,” Elaine said.

Both Tony and Elaine were born and raised in Seward County. Tony spent his early years in Seward, was raised on a farm and graduated from Garland High School. He attended Concordia College, the University of Nebraska and graduated from George Washington University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. He worked with the Soil Conservation Service in Seward, Lincoln and Washington, D.C., advancing from field technician to agency personnel officer and to assistant administrator for management. The couple returned to Seward, farmed and worked as chief of planning for the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission and later as executive vice-present for the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Over the years, the boards Tony has served on include: Cattle National Bank and Trust, Seward Library Foundation, Seward Foundation, Seward Lied Senior Center, Seward United Methodist Church Foundation, Kiwanis Club Foundation, Seward County Planning/City Planning, Seward City Council, Seward Kiwanis (past distinguished president), Memorial Health Care Foundation, Seward First Impressions Committee, Seward Groundwater Guardian Team, Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement, Seward Magazine Club, Seward United Methodist Church, former secretary of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, Seward Isaac Walton League, the board of directors for the Center for Rural Affairs, president of the National Association of Retired Soil Conservation Service Employees and listed in Marquis, “Who’s Who in America.”

After returning to Seward, Tony and Elaine also volunteered for Meals on Wheels to assist with delivering meals.

Tony and Elaine said they have met some remarkable people over the years and enjoyed being able to serve the community.

“Working for the soil conservation service and even working for the State of Nebraska and working in the International Soil and Water Conservation Society, all of that work had to do with trying to maintain a sustainable type environment and production system for agriculture. I got into federal service at a very opportune time and I end up with a very comfortable annuity. I guess I always felt that receiving the annuity that i do, I had an obligation to justify that, not that it needed to be justified but my conscious felt better if I continued to make contributions toward this mission that I had devoted my career to,” he said. “It was pretty easy for us to do the things that we did and we enjoyed it. Elaine and I really worked as a team on much of this stuff.”

“Really through the years, we’ve met some wonderful people, just amazing,” Elaine said. “You think everybody’s alike, but they aren’t.”

Tony said their service in Seward came very naturally.

Tony and Elaine have four children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.