Retailer Frank Kumor, ‘Heart and Soul of Bellevue,’ Dies at 71

IndependentsDec 16, 2020

Retailer Frank Kumor, ‘Heart and Soul of Bellevue,’ Dies at 71

The jeweler, known for his generosity and commitment to the town he called home, died after contracting the coronavirus.

Frank Kumor, who started working at Erwin’s Jewelers Co. in Bellevue, Nebraska in 1975 and took ownership in 1989, died Dec. 4 after contracting the coronavirus.

Bellevue, Neb.—Frank Kumor, a longtime retailer and staple in his community, died Dec. 4 of complications from COVID-19.

He was 71 years old.

Kumor grew up on a farm west of North Platte, Nebraska.

He got his start in jewelry and watch repair when he was in high school—a local jeweler hired him through a 4-H program to wash the windows and engrave trophies. During his time there, he also learned the ins and outs of jewelry and pursued it after graduation by enrolling in classes at a watchmaking and jewelry repair school in Kansas City.

It also ended up being the place where he met and fell in love with his first wife, Peggy. The two were married on May 1, 1970.

Kumor completed Air Force Basic Training that August at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas amid the Vietnam war and four months later, in December 1970, was certified as an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist in turbo-prop aircraft.

According to an online obituary, at one point in his Air Force career, he could identify every aircraft in service at that time just by the sound of its engine.

After Kumor completed his service, he finished his watch repair and jewelry training, and, upon graduating, was hired by Erwin Dreibus to work at Erwin’s Jewelers Co. in Bellevue, Nebraska.

He moved his family to the city in 1975. At the time it was him, his wife Peggy and their son Brent but they eventually added six more children to the family.

At the same time his family was growing, so too was Kumor’s participation in the Bellevue community, and when he took ownership of the jewelry store in 1989 after Dreibus’ retirement, he upped investment in the city.

Kumor served on the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, the Olde Towne Task Force, and as president of the Olde Town Merchant’s Association.

He also supported Offut Air Force Base, located adjacent to Bellevue in Sarpy County, acting as a liaison between the base and the community and supporting the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron, where he served as the co-commander for 15 years.

The giving of his time also included everything from organizing the Christmas light displays to making sure the trash cans along Mission Avenue, on which the store is located, were emptied, his family said in his obituary.

Kumor served for a long time on the Bellevue

Public School Board, eventually selling rings to the next generation of customers—sons and daughters of parents who had bought their wedding rings from him in the 1970s.

His connection to the community and his impact was so greatly felt by everyone, in fact, that on Dec. 8, as his funeral possession passed through town, residents lined the streets to say goodbye, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

“It is just a devastating loss to the community,” Kevin Hensel, president and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as telling the news site. “Frank is a true icon in Bellevue, a supporter of everything, be it schools or sports or the Chamber of Commerce. There really is no other. It’s hard to believe he’s not with us.”

A post on a Bellevue Facebook page also called Kumor the “heart and soul of Bellevue,” and many remembered his kindness and generosity in other posts, emphasizing his impact and how almost everyone knew him or had a story about him.

His son Joe told the Omaha World-Herald: “Piles of people would tell me, ‘Tell your dad thank you, he really helped me out when I needed a ring and didn’t have any money.’”

His wife Peggy died in 1998, and though she could never be replaced, Kumor was lucky enough to meet another woman who brought joy into his life. He and Pat married on March 11, 2001, at which time he gained two stepchildren.

Kumor was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Arlene; his sister, Loretta; and his first wife, Peggy.

Kumor is survived by siblings, Neil and Carol; his wife, Pat; seven children: Brent Kumor (Charlie Brown), Rebecca Zurcher (Donnie), Joe Kumor (Vanessa), Elizabeth Williams (Joe), Ben Kumor (Stephanie), John Kumor (Jessica), and Andrew Kumor (Brittanie); two step-children, Kim Godinez (Frank) and David Whisinnand (Becky); and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A private interment was held at Bellevue Cemetery with Military Honors by Offutt Air Force Base Honor Guard and American Legion Post #331.

To honor his memory, his family suggests donating to the Frank Kumor Memorial Scholarship Fund—created in his honor at the Bellevue Public Schools Foundationthe Sarpy County Museum, or the Bellevue Food Pantry.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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