Arlen Kempcke was born in 1942 in Oakland, Nebraska. He is now 75 and has lived in Lyons for 70 of those years. Growing up, his role model was his father. He always enjoyed being outside working on equipment with his dad. Arlen said that his favorite thing about his father was that “he made work fun,” which was also one of the ways Arlen lived his life. Arlen enjoyed school because he always made it fun like his dad had taught him. He hated English and loved math, but he still made the most of everything. He played football throughout high school and liked being on the team. His favorite part was blocking people in practice.
He married his wife, Cindy, on December 22, 1963. A cold, snowy day, but still a happy day for him. Two years later, he was drafted and moved to Germany. The Army helped him mature a lot. His first child was born in Germany. Although he was in Germany with his child, he still had a dangerous job in the Vietnam War. His job had the highest percentages of being killed. To this day, he still meets up with some of his closest friends in the military. He thinks that there is a bond built like no other in the military and he is now thankful that he was in it. After he returned from Germany, he lived on a family farm with his 4 kids; Melanie, Mark, Brian, Paul, and his wife, Cindy.
He farmed for 40 years before opening a gas station on Main Street in Lyons. Arlen enjoyed owning a business because he was always his own boss and always liked to work with his family. Sometimes he didn’t like to have hired help because he never knew how reliable they would be. Arlen never thought he would own a business or live in the house he does today. His life has actually been better than he expected, which is a pleasant surprise for him. One of the most important lessons he learned in his life was to always be positive and help. “Keep smiling,” Arlen said. “That is what got me here today.”
His favorite part about living in Lyons is that everyone is friendly and helpful. Everyone is always looking out and caring for everybody else.
Lyons has changed in so many ways. There is now fewer businesses in town, but that has been made up for with bigger businesses. There used to be about six gas stations and four grocery stores compared to the one of each there is now. There also used to be many more people who lived in the rural area of Lyons.
Arlen expects to keep drinking coffee in his kitchen and hopefully do some traveling in the next few years of his life. He would also hope that he would be remembered by people as a “helpful smiling guy.”
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