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Don Crays

Don Crays

A Mass of Christian Burial for Don will be held on Thursday, September 28, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Tobias, Nebraska with Father Robert Barnhill presiding.

Visitation will take place on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 from 1:00 p,.m. until 8:00 p.m. with family present from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Farmer & Son Funeral Home – Kotas Chapel in Milligan, Nebraska.

Visitation will cease at 6:00 p.m. for the Praying of the Rosary but will continue following the Rosary at 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Praying of the Rosary will be held on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. at Farmer & Son Funeral Home – Kotas Chapel in Milligan, Nebraska with Father Robert Barnhill leading the Rosary.

Graveside Services will be conducted following the funeral service at the Atlanta Cemetery in rural Milligan, Nebraska.

In Lieu of Flowers – Memorials are to be directed to the family to be designated at a later date.

Don Roger Crays was born to Donald and Anna (Herynk) Crays on October 1, 1935 on a farm southwest of Tobias, NE. He passed away September 23, 2023 in Grand Island, NE at the age of 87. He was the oldest of five children.

He attended Atlanta Center Country School through 8th grade and graduated from Tobias High School in 1953. Before becoming a full time farmer, he worked for the railroad in Lincoln, appraised land in Custer County, constructed concrete elevators around the Milligan area, and worked at the ammunition depot in Hasting.

Don began farming at the age of 15 with his grandfather Joe Herynk on the farm that eventually became his lifelong home. He was proud to be the owner of three farms that have been in the family for over 100 years that all received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Family award.

Don was married to Sheila Elznic in Exeter, NE on November 6, 1965. To this union, three daughters were born; Stephanie, Linda and Clara.

His love for cattle started at a young age when he began showing in 4-H, this led to over 40 years as a 4-H leader mentoring many youth including his sisters and daughters. His passion for Polled Hereford cattle began in 1976 with the purchase of four heifers from his brother, Roland. Little did he know this endeavor would be the beginning of many friendships and “family vacations” to cattle shows and events across the nation. Don & Sheila served as Nebraska Junior Polled Hereford Advisors for three years and were awarded the Nebraska Hereford Association Outstanding Breeder and Pioneer Breeder Awards.

He was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, serving on the parish council, the Tobias Volunteer Fire Department and EMTs, serving as the Fire Chief, the Nebraska Hereford Association, and the American Hereford Association.

Don will long be remembered for his orneriness, his signature cowboy hat and cigar, his passion for cattle and horses but most of all his dedication to his family and friends.

Don was preceded in death by his parents Don & Anne Crays, in-laws Clarence & Evelyn Elznic, grandson Seth McKay, brother-in-law Leo Etter, and sister-in-law Norma Crays.

Don is survived by his wife Shelia of Tobias; daughters, Stephanie (Kirk) Jensen, Courtland, KS, Linda (Grant) McKay Marysville, KS, Clara (Tim) Grace, Humboldt, SD; grandchildren, Cody, Casey (Rileigh), Jessica Jensen, Bailey McKay, Kane, Weston, Xavier, & Blaze Grace; Great-Granddaughter Blair Jensen; Siblings, Roland Crays, Barry (Jean) Crays, Sharon (Jerry) Kroese, and Karen Etter; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.