Cover photo for Hugh J. Rath's Obituary
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1932 Hugh 2023

Hugh J. Rath

January 24, 1932 — May 6, 2023

Hugh J. B. Rath, 91 of Lexington passed away Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Mary Lanning Hospital in Hastings.

Hugh was born January 24, 1932, in Lewellen, Nebraska, to Clarence E. Bills and Ada M. (Johnson) and was later adopted by Floyd and Doris Rath.

He graduated from Bayard High school in 1949. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army where he served his country during the Korean War.   He trained to be a radio operator and worked as an MP before being discharged in 1952.  In 1953, he became a police officer in Fairfax County, VA.  He then returned to his hometown of Bayard in 1960. There, he served as police chief for two years. In 1962, he moved to Lexington and became police chief, later stepping down to work as assistant chief from 1965 until 1974. In 1974, he moved to Kearney and became the communications technician for the city. In 1993, he became the 911 supervisor for the combined City of Kearney Police Department and the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department until his retirement in 2014.

He was very proud of working as a projectionist for the Bayard movie theater and the Majestic Theater and Drive-in, both in Lexington.  His spare time was spent fishing and painting watercolor pictures.  He loved living at the lake and watching the birds, especially during eagle migration.  Later, he cooed songs with the many doves around while he sat outside at the apartment.  You couldn't buy corn without him wanting to husk it. The worms didn't bother him at all and he could eat corn for every meal!  Playing the harmonica put smiles on many faces.  He loved his dogs and those of others and they adored him, fighting over a favorite spot on his lap!  His love for fellow man, especially his family, was so deep!  His grandkids and their kids gave him delight, as did all kids.  

Hugh was united in marriage to Dolores Krigbaum on January 1, 1950, and after her death united in marriage to Eilene M. Wehr on October 29, 2005.

Hugh is survived by his wife, Eilene of Lexington, sons: Steve (Linda) of Elwood, NE, and Mike (Amanda) of Whitney, NE, step-sons: Dave Snyder (Linda) of Fort Collins, CO, and Doug Wehr of Kearney, NE step-daughter, Terri Casper of Lexington, NE, grandchildren:  Greg Smith, Amanda Hollida, Matt Smith, Nathan Rath, Christopher Rath, Mary Kathryn Rath, Brianna Rath, Jeremy Rath, Jennifer Rath, Hunter Rath, Sydney Rath and Abigail Rath, twenty great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren, ten step-grandchildren, fifteen step-great grandchildren, and one brother Curtis (Sharon) Edler of Chappell, NE.

Hugh was preceded in death by his parents, first wife, Dolores, son, Ronald, daughters: Deborah Smith and Beverly Dyke, son-in-law, Everett Dyke, step son-in-law Craig Casper, brothers Leland Rath and Clifford Bills.

A Memorial Mass will be held Monday, May 15, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. at the St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Lexington with Father Jose Chavez, officiating. The Memorial Mass will be live-streamed via the Reynolds-Love Funeral Home Facebook page.

Inurnment with military honors will be at the Kearney Cemetery at 2:00 p.m.

Memorials are suggested to Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial Fund or St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Reynolds-Love Funeral Home in Lexington is honored to be assisting the family with arrangements. Please share online condolences with the family by visiting: 


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