Michael Kacere, Sr.

Michael Kacere, Sr.

Michael Joseph Kacere, Sr was born on May 17, 1922 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Michael passed away peacefully on February 1, 2023 at the age of 100 surrounded by his loving family. 

Mike was the son of Farris (Joseph) Kacere and Mary Khawaja who both immigrated from Lebanon in the early 1900s. They settled in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as Joseph was to be the priest of the St. George Syrian Orthodox Church. Fr. Joseph Kacere and youngest son, Frankie, died in a car accident in 1933. Mike was the youngest of the remaining four children, Jennie, George, and Nina. He graduated from McKinley High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1940 and worked at a grocery store and ladies shoe store until he entered the service in 1942.

Mike was a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945. He was a navigator on the B-17 bomber and completed 25 missions in the European theater of operation. After the war, Mike decided to use his G.I. Bill to become an optometrist. He entered college and received a doctorate degree in optometry in 1949 from Northern Illinois College of Optometry. Because his brother-in-law had an optometry practice in Chadron, Nebraska, Mike settled in Rushville, Nebraska to open an optometry office. In January 1954 he met the love of his life, Loretta Yanney. After a short courtship, they were married on June 27, 1954. The couple moved to Gordon, Nebraska in 1955 where he continued his optometry practice serving the people of rural Nebraska and South Dakota. They lived in Gordon for the next 60 years and became prominent pillars of the community. Mike served on the Gordon Public Schools school board, performed in several community playhouse shows, painted signs for many businesses and the city of Gordon, served on civic organizations and loved his bowling and golf leagues.

Mike was a Master Mason and a Scottish Rite Shriner. He also served as the Job’s Daughters Associate Bethel Guardian of Bethel #50 and as Associate Grand Guardian for the state of Nebraska from 1978-79. After retirement, he enjoyed working in the pro shop at the Gordon Country Club. 

He and Loretta also loved traveling, visiting friends and family all across the country. The family took long car rides from Gordon to Cedar Rapids every Easter, to many Nebraska football games, including bowl games, and every family event from California to Michigan and everywhere in between.  Mike and Loretta also traveled to Europe, Japan and Australia to visit family and friends.

In 2015, Mike and Loretta moved to Wahoo, Nebraska to be closer to their children’s families. They enjoyed every birthday, holiday, births of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and other important events while they were living in Wahoo. The highlight was being able to celebrate his 100th birthday with so many wonderful relatives and friends in Wahoo in April. Living at Colony Place was a wonderful community of friends until they moved to South Haven Living Center in June 2022.

His faith in Christ was an integral part of Mike’s life. He was baptized and married in the Syrian Orthodox Church. He was a faithful member, lay minister, financial secretary, bulletin printer, jack-of-all trades of St. Marks Episcopal Church in Gordon. He continued to worship regularly at Bethlehem Lutheran in Wahoo and attended Bible study on Sunday mornings, which he enjoyed immensely. His strong legacy of faith, pride in his heritage and the value of family have left an indelible mark on everyone who knew him.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, sisters and brothers and their spouses, an infant daughter, Lori Ann and many other people he loved that he was looking forward to seeing again.

Mike is survived by Loretta, his loving and devoted wife of 68 years, daughters Judy (Kevin) Stukenholtz, Janie (Mark) Fouts, sons Mike Kacere, Jr., Rich (Piper) Kacere, 15 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren who lovingly called him Ghiddu. In addition, he is survived by sisters-in-law Phyllis David, Lorraine and brother-in-law Don Nemer, Gayla Yanney, brother-in-law David Yanney and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and scores of other family and friends that he loved dearly.

Service was on Friday, February 17, 2023 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Masonic Funeral Ceremony presented by Wahoo Lodge #59 A.F & A.M. Interment Omaha National Cemetery. Military Funeral Honors conducted by Wahoo American Legion Post #82 and Wahoo VFW Post #4502. Pruss-Nabity Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

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