Long-time Harrison businessman E. E. "Abie" Whiteaker died Nov. 13, 1990, at Crawford Memorial Hospital following a long illness. He had operated Whiteaker's Clothing Store for 59 years.
Emmett Emery "Abie" Whiteaker was born in Maysville, Mo., on Dec. 3, 1901, the son of pioneer farmers Emery Clifton and Lucinda Belle Redman Whiteaker.
In April 1925 he went to work for the Golden Rule Store in Crawford, Neb. In 1928 he moved to Harrison, Neb. to start and manage a Golden Rule Store. He married Mary Reed from Crab Orchard, Neb., a Crawford school teacher, Nov. 5, 1928.
In 1929 he returned to Crawford and when the banks went broke during the Great Depression, he and his wife started Whiteakers Clothing Store in Harrison in November 1931, which he operated until his death. Abie recalled trading a Stetson hat for his first cash register.
In his family history, he recalls his first customer, "It was Mr. Press Wilson who was putting in potatoes on the Marsteller place west of town. I sold Press an overall jacket for the sum of $1.69. Press rounded me up before we opened for business and asked for a jacket."
In another section, Abie remembers about the bank robbery in 1934. "While in the Davis building, we well remember Dec. 24, 1934; the bank robbery. Jerry Kennedy, Lola Unitt, Mary and myself were busy in the store with Christmas shoppers when Harold Jeffries, who worked in the bank, came rushing in and said the robber had just doubled back through town headed east. He said 'come on Abie let's go after him.' So away we went with Albert Moody, his son Lawrence Moody, Harold and myself in our car (which happened to be just like the one the robber was driving). Well, we overtook him some 16 or 18 miles east of town, and ran him off the road, and he got out on the opposite side of his car and came out shooting with a German Luggar.
"I didn't have a gun, so believe me, I laid close to the running board on the opposite side of the car, and finally, after he had emptied his gun and started running down Smiley Canyon, Albert Moody shot him with a big Army rifle. John Coffee, bank president, and Sid Williams, County Sheriff, showed up. This was a horrifying experience, and one I care never to repeat. As my car was shot up considerably, the Nebraska Bankers Association and the local bank here, paid the difference on a new car for us, a 1935 Ford."
In one article written about the store in 1984, it is recounted how Whiteaker had compromised with customers to pay their bills when the cattle were sold in the fall. The compromise helped the store survive through the years and outlast two other competitor stores in Harrison. That kind of service will be long remembered by area residents.
Survivors include sons Robert R. and Dot Whiteaker of Phoenix, Aria.; Mayor Donald E. and Dorothy Whiteaker of Lusk; Joe and Tonita Whiteaker of Harrison; grandchildren, Robert Whiteaker and Cindy Snead of Phoenix, Ariz.; Greg Whiteaker of Laramie; Martha Whiteaker of Corpus Christi, Texas; Marybeth Nelson of Littleton, Colo.; Jodi Whiteaker of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jill Dunn of Aurora, Colo. and Tom Whiteaker of Phoenix; great grandchildren, Virginia and Robert Snead ; and one brother Kermit Whiteaker of Dallas, Texas.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Mary, in 1986, sister-in-law Edna Reed in 1978 who in 1938 made her home with the Whiteakers, and two brothers and two sisters.
Abie held membership in the United Memorial Methodist Church, Masonic Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star and had been a faithful community supporter all of his life.
Memorials to the United Memorial Methodist Church and Sioux County Ambulance Fund have been established by the family.
Services were held at the United Methodist Church on Friday, Nov. 16, at 2 p.m. Burial was in the Harrison Cemetery.
This gravestone photo was found on nebraskagravestones.org