Omaha car dealer John E. Kraft was a trailblazer, achieving many business 'firsts' -
Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:10 am
Omaha car dealer John E. Kraft was a trailblazer, achieving many business 'firsts'

Longtime Omaha car dealer John Edward Kraft can be considered a trailblazer. Son Randy Kraft of Omaha noted some of his father's business firsts:

He was the first dealer to be open Sundays in Omaha, starting in the early 1980s at John Kraft Chevrolet.

His dealership was the first in Omaha to have a service department open until 9 p.m., beginning in the 1970s.

His operation had the first female salespeople and service advisers, in the 1970s.

John Kraft, 81, died Sunday at Bergan Mercy Medical Center. Autopsy results were pending, but family members said it appeared his death was the result of a heart attack.

Kraft bought the former Pappas Chevrolet, 6210 Military Ave., in 1969 and renamed it John Kraft Chevrolet. He relocated to 85th and Military in May 1973.

He operated the dealership and a separate used car business until 2000, when he sold them to Gregg Young.

“He built that dealership from a fledgling business when he bought it to, within four to five years, the largest Chevrolet dealership in Nebraska,” Randy Kraft said.

John Kraft's wife, Carlene, said her husband had “wonderful, wonderful rapport with employees and customers alike.”

He was president of the Omaha New Car Dealers Association, a member of the board of Douglas County Bank and served on the Omaha zone dealer council for Chevrolet dealers.

He and his firm sponsored numerous Little League and youth basketball teams. Kraft contributed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletic program and was a member of the Wheels Club, which provides cars for UNL coaches.

He was born and raised in Audubon, Iowa, and graduated from high school there. He served in the Navy during the Korean War.

He attended business school in Des Moines and worked for the former Iowa-Des Moines National Bank. He worked for Bob Brown Chevrolet in Des Moines from 1961-69, leaving as general manager.

Besides his wife of 56 years and son Randy, other survivors include his children Debi McBride, Mike Kraft and Greg Kraft, all of Omaha; 14 grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

Services begin at 10 a.m. Friday at Faith-Westwood United Methodist Church, 4814 Oaks Lane.

Contact the writer: Sue Story Truax    |   402-444-1165

Sue writes obituaries and covers community news and schools for's Living section, primarily Community Connection.

State Department moves to delay Keystone XL pipeline decision
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
Friday's attendance dips at Millard West after bathroom threat
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
< >
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »