Cover photo for Ernest "Ernie" Thayer's Obituary
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1935 Ernest "Ernie" 2022

Ernest "Ernie" Thayer

March 18, 1935 — September 15, 2022

Ernest James Thayer (Ernie) 87, went to be with the Lord on September 15th, 2022, in Grand Island, Nebraska. Services will be Wednesday, September 21st, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 10:30am in Grand Island. Pastor Jeff Pedersen will officiate. Private Family burial will be in the Grand Island City Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5pm-7pm Tuesday at Apfel Funeral Home in Grand Island. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, the Hall County Historical Society, or Heartland United Way.

Ernie was born to Bert and Emma Thayer and raised on a farm near Wolbach, Nebraska. He graduated from Wolbach High School, and he served in the United States Army 2nd Infantry Division. He attended and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was also a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking. Ernie married Janice Larson in 1957 and they raised their family in Grand Island.

Ernie worked at First National Bank of Grand Island and Commercial National Bank for many years. In the mid-1980’s, he purchased the Grand Island Trust Company. His love of Nebraska agri-business continued when he purchased a large working ranch in central Nebraska he re-named it Davis Creek Land and Cattle company. Ernie continued to work well past his 80th birthday, as CEO and Chairman of the Agricultural Land Company also based in Grand Island.

Throughout his lifetime, Ernie volunteered and served on countless corporate and community boards. He was Chairman of the State of Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Grand Island area Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Grand Island Industrial Foundation. He was a career-long member of the Shriners, and President of the Central Nebraska Shrine Club. Board member of the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association, the Hall County Fair Board, Fonner Park, Hall County Historical Society, Nebraska State Bankers Association, and a longtime and active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

In 2013, Ernie and Jan Thayer were inducted to the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame upon receiving the Clarence Swanson award. Jan and Ernie were very strong proponents and benefactors to the University of Nebraska. They funded the building of the “Thayer Family Husker Athletics Research Lab” located at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, as well as the “Thayer Family Patient Waiting Area” located at the Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha. In 2018, the “Thayer Family Scholarship” at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Allied Health Professionals was created in order to make tuition more affordable to UNMC students from rural Nebraska.

Ernie is survived by his three sons. David Thayer of Dallas, Texas. D.J. and Janet Thayer of Omaha, Nebraska. Dan and Lisa Thayer of Grand Island; and grandchildren Emma and Will Thayer of Omaha, and Emily and Carolyn of Grand Island, together with many nieces and nephews. Ernie was preceded in death by his wife, Janice Thayer, his parents Bert and Emma Thayer, and his only sister, Audrey Christensen of St. Paul, Nebraska.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ernest "Ernie" Thayer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Apfel Funeral Home - Grand Island

1123 West 2nd Street, Grand Island, NE 68801

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

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