For more than 60 years, the Kracl Garage, owned by Verlyn and Rose Ann Kracl, has served the Schuyler community with their brand of no-frills, meticulous repairs and salvage services.
Even after a fire destroyed much of the old garage in 2010, the family-owned business remained in service after a rebuilding project allowed them to move into a large, modern facility on Road E.
Now, the garage is going through a significant change brought on by the death of its leader. Verlyn “Buck” Kracl passed away at the age of 88 on Jan. 5, leaving behind Rose, the business and those who worked with him and cherished the time spent together. A funeral service was held Friday, Jan. 10, at First Presbyterian Church in Schuyler.
The garage and the business will stay intact, and some adjustments will be made with Buck’s passing. But, people like Rose Ann and her sons Tim and Dan (also known as Digger), will miss having the person that they loved in their life.
“He liked to work,” Tim said. “He was hardworking and wise. He thought things through. He was very opinionated, he always liked to give his view of things. Sometimes they were good, other times they weren’t so good.”
Digger noted that Buck always wanted to make sure that everything was fixed right the first time, which led to some interesting situations in which he fussed over every exact detail, down to a quarter of an inch.
“Depending on what it was, it could be hours (or) days,” Tim said. “He was a very particular machinist. His welds had to be good and if he didn’t like what he saw, he would redo it.”
Each member of the family has made some sort of impact on the business, from Tim and Digger working in and out of the shop to Rose Ann helping out with the books. Rose Ann has been the business' bookkeeper since the very beginning and was married to Buck for 63 years. The two had been working at separate alfalfa mills in Schuyler before they met at a dance. They fell in love, got married and the rest is history.
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“After he went to work for his dad, he bought this property (when it was) Frontier Oil, we started the business and I became the bookkeeper,” Rose Ann said.
Buck and other members of the family also worked with the Schuyler Fire Department for many years, as Buck served for 12 years and Tim 14. During his funeral, members of the fire department greeted people at the door, as a tribute to Buck’s status as an honorary member.
“When you’re an honorary member, they present an honor guard for their time in service,” Digger said. “They give the proper send-off due to respect and appreciation of their service.”
Also in attendance at the funeral was a yellow 1969 International truck, affectionately named “Little Bertha," that led the funeral procession out of First Presbyterian. The truck was one of many in attendance, including those from Columbus and Lincoln that had made their way there in order to pay tribute to Buck and his work. But “Little Bertha” remains special, mainly because it had a long history and survived the fire that nearly threatened the business.
“Dad always felt that he had to have four-wheel drive,” Tim said. “He wanted to make a four-wheel-drive and his brother, Richard, wanted to get involved in it. Between us and Richard and Richard’s garage, that’s what he came up with. It’s named ‘Little Bertha’ because my grandpa had something that he manufactured and it was called, ‘Bertha.' Between Buck and his brother Richard, they determined that they would call it ‘Little Bertha.’”
Although there will be changes, the memories of a father, husband and friend will remain intact. He wasn’t the man with the most modern technology, but he and his business got the most out of what they had and should continue to do so, long after Buck’s passing.
“That’s the way he’d want it,” Rose Ann said.
“He never indicated (that), ‘Once I’m gone, stop,’” Tim said. “We’re still going to try to respect his legacy and that’s all we can do. When they say, ‘Inside these four walls, there’s voices and ghosts,’ we’re going to hear it a lot and we’re probably going to hear it for a long time.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.