Hotel magnate, Eppley, left philanthropic mark on Omaha

The Eppley title is embedded in Omaha.

Fittingly. Because it was from his motels that Eugene C. Eppley made the thousands and thousands that benefited civic and group endeavors around 30 many years.

Eppley Airfield. Eppley Institute for cancer investigation at the University of Nebraska Medical Heart. Eppley School of Enterprise Administration at Creighton University, Eppley Administration Developing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

And although the Metropolis-County Creating was not named for him, the web page was acquired with a grant from his document-location foundation.

Eppley was born into the resort business, but almost nothing was turned about to him. He created his profession from a start out as a handbook laborer at a lodge, producing 12.5 cents an hour.

He grew to become an Omahan following obtaining the Hotel Fontenelle in the 1920s. He lived in the resort until his dying in 1958 at age 74.

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“The veteran hotel person was a lonely unique. He had no spouse and children and even though for many a long time he led an lively social life, he had handful of intimates,” mentioned The Planet-Herald in an editorial immediately after his demise. “Vastly successful in business, the possessor of a fortune often approximated upward of $30 million, Mr. Eppley spent his afterwards many years hoping to prepare for the disposal of his revenue in this kind of a way that it would be beneficial.”

Eppley was from Akron, Ohio. His good-terrific grandfather owned Eppley’s Tavern in Philadelphia, the place George Washington and Benjamin Franklin ended up regular lodgers. Rudyard Kipling stated the institution in his poem “Rewards and Fairies.”

Eppley’s father, Owen, owned two inns in Akron. Eugene was an only boy or girl. His parents divorced when he was 16, and his dad slash financial support to the family for his remaining 3 many years of marriage.

Eugene graduated from Culver Army Academy in northern Indiana and briefly attended Stanford — his maternal grandmother was supporting his mom and him. Again in Ohio, he obtained his very first work in the hotel enterprise at the Resort McKinley in Canton. He was a furniture mover.

Immediately he was promoted to bellboy, then resort steward. At 20, he was reported to be the youngest steward in the U.S. It is in which he acquired his famed interest to detail. He managed inns in Pennsylvania and Minneapolis, then partnered to purchase two motels in Ohio.

His emphasis shifted to the Missouri River valley with the leasing of the Resort Martin in Sioux City, Iowa, and the Carpenter and Cataract in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Eppley Accommodations Co. was included in 1917 with 4 resorts he owned and three that he leased.

Omaha became Eppley Hotel’s headquarters, and he moved listed here from Sioux City right after his 1921 purchase of the Fontenelle and 6 other motels in Nebraska — two in Lincoln and 1 each and every in Franklin, Desk Rock, Scottsbluff and Columbus. People were owned by the Nebraska Resort Corporation prior to getting into receivership. The Nebraska Supreme Courtroom reversed the sale, but Eppley in the long run accomplished his purchase.

His houses, which numbered 50 in excess of time, provided the Quitandinha vacation resort in close proximity to Rio de Janeiro that he tried to change all-around immediately after the Brazilian governing administration shut its on line casino, and the Elms and Oaks resort at Excelsior Springs in Missouri near Kansas City. In the 1950s, he had the premier privately-held hotel chain in the country.

Harry Truman secretly stayed in Eppley’s own suite at the Elms the evening of the 1948 presidential election, then returned the following afternoon “to his blessed hotel” for lunch, therapeutic bath and therapeutic massage and rest. Each time Truman was in Omaha, Eppley put him in a suite at the Fontenelle.

Just after virtually 40 a long time of possession, Eppley marketed his 22 resorts with 5,420 rooms to Sheraton for $30 million in 1956. Most of the proceeds went to the Eugene C. Eppley Foundation, incorporated in 1949 for the principal goal of funding most cancers analysis. The mission improved afterwards to supplying start off-up money.

When Eppley was picked out at age 48 as the 39th king of Ak-Sar-Ben, a World-Herald profile said he liked horseback riding and golfing, walking (he’d circle the milelong Ak racetrack 4 instances 3 time a 7 days) and gave authentic functions.

Eppley endured two strokes in 1955, never ever regaining complete use of his voice. The stroke was potentially a contributing element to the sale of his lodges. Becoming extra reclusive although living on the fifth ground of the Fontenelle, he died in his suite on Oct. 14, 1958. He’s buried in Forest Garden Cemetery in north Omaha.

Ahead of Eppley’s death, the foundation experienced provided cash to what was then Omaha University for a library (now the administration developing at UNO) and to Culver Armed forces for classrooms and an auditorium. He also acquired land the Platte River south of Omaha for the Salvation Army’s use as a resident camp for moms and little ones. The camp was wrecked by the floods of 2019.

Aviation fascinated Eppley. He took traveling lessons in Ohio, fortuitously missing his previous one as the teacher was killed when the airplane crashed. He sponsored prizes at the Omaha Air Races in the 1930s.

So when Omaha desperately needed to strengthen the municipal airport, the Omaha Airport Authority, led by Eppley Basis trustee Arthur Storz Sr., arranged a grant of additional than $1 million from the foundation.

As a result the airport was renamed Eppley Airfield in 1961. The airport was the ninth served by United Air Traces to attain jet assistance.

Eppley established up his foundation so it would exhaust its cash 15 years just after his demise. It took 20 to close the textbooks. Complete donations were $36 million, creating the foundation the state’s largest prior to the Kiewit Basis in 1980.

Amongst the establishments exterior the Omaha faculties that benefitted were the Boys Club of Omaha, Henry Doorly Zoo for the Pachyderm Hill dwelling for elephants, the YMCA, and Michigan Point out University for its Faculty of Hotel Administration.

The last three checks from the foundation, in 1977 and 1978, ended up for $250,000 to the St. Joseph Healthcare facility on 30th Road and a merged $30,000 for the Boys Club and the Salvation Military.

“Like lots of a wealthy person before him, Mr. Eppley doubtless identified that the smart disbursement of his fortune posed issues as formidable as the earning of it,” the 1958 World-Herald editorial explained. “His fellow Omahans will hope that he solved these issues to his pleasure.

“They will keep in mind him as a generous male who tried using to ease the lot of the weak, and who gave a good offer of his prosperity to training.”

A starting level for this column: “Eugene C. Eppley, His Everyday living and Legacy” (1969), by now-retired UNO historical past professor Harl A. Dalstrom.