Cover photo for Lawrence Eugene Stanek's Obituary
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1939 Lawrence 2022

Lawrence Eugene Stanek

June 25, 1939 — October 27, 2022

Lawrence Eugene “Gene” Stanek was born on a warm summer day in June of 1939 in the town of Sioux City, IA. Gene’s father, John, was a Polish immigrant, a hardworking man, a dedicated father, and a lover of music. John had a broad figure and a stoic face and every week he played the accordion at church. Gene’s mother, Antoinette, was the daughter of Polish immigrants and the second oldest of seven children. She had curly hair and fine features, and her friends called her “Tillie.”

Gene was the youngest of four siblings, two brothers and a sister. He credited his siblings, aunts, uncles, and maternal grandparents as very important figures in his youth. Especially after 1952 when, just five days before Gene’s 13th birthday, his father died suddenly. After the loss of his father, Gene got a job with a local farmer, helping grow and sell crops in the summer and pine trees in the winter. His earnings went into keeping his family home. Eventually, one of his uncles got him a job at a shoe and clothing store downtown where Gene worked while attending Heelan Catholic High School. He graduated in May of 1957 and attended some college courses before being drafted into the US Army. He served as a non-combat correspondent at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, CO for just shy of two years. He moved back to Sioux City, entered the Army Reserves, and began a job at a meat packing plant where he worked until 1968.

In 1964, Gene and his friend and coworker, Sunny Counterman, attended a very important “Saddle and Hunt Club” Sunday picnic. Gene was unfamiliar with the club, but he loved horses and the outdoors almost as much as he loved a good meal. Not long after their arrival, Sunny introduced him to a then 19-year-old Nancy Flynn. The two would spend the rest of the day riding and talking. Nancy would remember him for his kindness and humor; Gene would remember her beauty and the sound of her laugh. Two weeks later, they ran into each other downtown and he asked her on a date. Two years later, they were engaged and not long after they were married on September 3rd, 1966.

It was with Nancy’s support and a partnership with his oldest brother, Joe, that Gene would become the co-owner of a Mr. Donut in Sioux City in 1968. He spent the next eight years working in the shop, waking up before the sun to fry donuts by the dozen and carrying 50-pound bags of flour on his shoulders. After their Mr. Donut success, Gene and his brother, Joe, would go on to open and operate four “Hardee’s” locations throughout Sioux City. In that time, Gene became a father to five children: Amy (‘67), Lisa (‘68), Kelly (‘70), John (‘73), and Maggie (‘77).

The two brothers worked together until Joe’s death in 1983. Gene carried on their business with his wife, Nancy, and Joe’s widow, Marge. He took a lot of care to make sure that his brother’s family and legacy were well-respected.

Gene would continue working at Hardees with Nancy until retiring in 2005. By then they had five grandchildren, with another on the way, and they were finally ready to pursue a life outside of Iowa. The following year, they moved to Clifton, CO, joining four of their children out west. There, they lived on five acres of farmland in view of two of the region’s most beautiful landmarks: Mt. Garfield and the Grand Mesa. Always an animal lover, Gene and Nancy raised several beloved cats and dogs and then eventually a horse, a mule, a French Mountain goat, countless chickens, and too many ducks. He and Nancy hosted annual Thanksgiving reunions with their daughters, sons, and seven grandchildren. They became loyal attendees of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, a dedicated 25-minute drive from their home. Gene struggled with a lot of physical pain and worsening dementia. He died peacefully in his sleep in the early morning of October 27th, 2022.

Gene loved westerns and black & white TV. He always had a candy stash and piles of books and magazines. He’d dog-ear recipes and interesting articles and he’d love to share whatever his most recent documentary had taught him. He was a gardener and a tomato enthusiast, and he made a mean burger. He was shockingly good at swatting flies, and he’d say the funniest things when you least expected it. He lived every day in pain but he could always put a smile on your face (whether he meant to or not). He loved animals and his children and his grandchildren and greatest of all, his wife.

He will be missed beyond the comprehension of words.

A Funeral Mass will be held on November 22, in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel at 11:00 A.M.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lawrence Eugene Stanek, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

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