Donald (Gene) Graves, 75 of Grand Island, died Friday, June 14, 2013, at St. Francis Medical Center with his loving family at his side.
Celebration of Life service was Tuesday, June 18, at the Bosselman Conference Center at Fonner Park, with Dan Naranjo officiating. His casket was carried in a horse drawn carriage to the Grand Island Cemetery.
Mr. Graves was born Dec. 10, 1937, on a farm near North Star, Neb., the son of Donald and Clara (Schultz) Graves.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 50 years, Barbara; daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and Jim Duncan of Broken Bow and their children, Taylor and Samuel Duncan; brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Kathy Graves of Central City, and sister and brother-in-law, Pat and Tom Spires of Clarks; mother-in-law, Maxine Bosselman of Grand Island; sister-in-law, Mary (Mrs. Scott) Sahling of St. Libory; sister-in-law, Jan (Mrs. Chuck) Bossel-man of Grand Island; brother-in-law, Fred A. (Deanna) Bosselman of Doniphan and nephews and nieces and many friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents; son, Bryan Graves; brother, Ray Graves and an infant brother, Jackie Graves.
Raised on a farm outside of Clarks, Gene graduated from Clarks High School in 1955, and headed to Midland College for a degree in education. Gene taught school and coached for several years at Silver Creek and Omaha. He was a pharmaceutical sales rep for a couple of years before returning to teach school and coach closer to home in Grand Island. He became a counselor at Barr Junior High School, and returned to get a master’s degree in counseling from Kearney State College in 1969.
In 1963, Gene made the most important decision of his life when he married Barbara Bosselman. For almost 50 years, Barbara and Gene have been partners in whatever they do. In 1975, Gene joined the Bosselman family business as president of the Pump & Pantry division. Under Gene’s leadership, the Pump & Pantry name grew to more than 30 stores. Gene and Barbara retired at the end of 1999.
While managing the Pump & Pantry stores, Gene and Barbara bought their first horses together. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they hit the AQHA circuit around the country. Gene served on the AQHA Executive Committee and as President. Gene’s specialty is western riding. They bought a ranch in the Sandhills northwest of Burwell. After selling the ranch, Gene obtained his real estate license and passed the exam to be a broker. Also, Gene was an auctioneer owning Diamond G Auction Company.
In 2006, they bought the Barranada Shirt Co. from its founder. They revised the fabrics to appeal to horse people. Barranada, which means “bar none” in Spanish, shirts can often be spotted at AQHA world shows.
During his time at Bosselman, Gene was instrumental in developing the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes that highlights the Fonner Park meet. Gene also served on a committee to help bring the Nebraska State Fair to Grand Island. He volunteered as an auctioneer for many charity auctions. He was instrumental with Habitat for Humanity “Build a Dream” fundraiser. He was a past member and Paul Harris Fellow with Grand Island Rotary; past president of Fonner Park and past president of Nebraska Quarter Horse Association.
A memorial fund will be established in Gene’s memory. Condolences may be sent to www.giallfaiths.com 
Published in Custer County Chief, June 20, 2013