Gary Leo Kroeger, age 81, of Lecompton, KS, passed away Friday, February 24th, 2023 at Pioneer Ridge Assisted Living in Lawrence, KS following a brief illness.
Gary is survived by the love of his life and inseparable partner, Linda Kroeger; sons Troy (Lisa Lysne) Kroeger of Cincinnati, OH; Todd (Stephanie) Kroeger of St. Louis, MO; daughters Brenda Frankenfeld (Mike McKinney) and Robin (Todd) Kofford, both of Lawrence; and his six wonderful grandchildren who were his absolute pride and joy (Margaret and Samuel Kroeger; Cypress, Estrella, and Oliver Frankenfeld; and Dylan Kofford); and many beloved fur grandbabies.
Gary was born on September 27th, 1941 in Ellis, KS as the third of five children of Joseph and Margaret Kroeger. He attended Fort Hays State University to earn his undergraduate degree in art history and worked at Weisner’s Meat Market to put himself through school, little knowing how that job would eventually define his future. He earned graduate degrees in art and education, and taught art in various school districts throughout Kansas, eventually becoming the State Art Director for the Kansas Department of Education. He retired from the education field as the Director of Fine Arts in the Lawrence School District USD 497 to focus on the business, Kroeger Country Meats, that he and his wife Linda opened in 1984 in Lecompton – a lifelong dream that had been sparked by that part-time job so many years before.
Gary plowed his creative energy and talent as well as his administrative skills to building a very successful business that eventually expanded beyond their store to an apartment complex and mini-storage facility, persevering even through the numerous medical challenges he faced over many years. He and Linda quickly became fixtures in the community. Gary welcomed every person who walked into the store with a smile, a story and exceptional customer service – he
and Linda made every single person feel special, and he never met a stranger.
Gary’s greatest loves (after Linda) were his grandchildren. He was a devoted grandpa who, in the words of the kids, was playful, sharp, kind, and involved; and nurturing of their unique individuality and talents. Not only did his direct impact on the grandkids make them into the amazing humans they’ve become, but he also was an incredible role model as a father who taught all his kids how to do it right. After all, he and Linda were the original Brady Bunch (before it was cool) in merging their families of his two boys with her two girls, making him the consummate expert of a dad having had to navigate that band of four crazy hooligans.
Other joys during Gary’s life besides his family were sailing and dancing; a passion for detailing, buying and selling cars (which his kids growing up were forbidden to touch); channeling his artistic and creative talents in many different ways; taking pride in his keen sense of style; and having great conversations and telling stories. He was still telling stories the very last days of his life.
Gary was dearly loved by so many – his smile, sense of humor and friendliness, along with the nicknames he had for everybody coupled with weird sound effects and unique catchphrases, will be greatly missed. The world is a little less bright without his light in it.
A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 4th at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana Street, Lawrence, KS. A Celebration of Life at High Tide 21 at Perry Marina (10772 Perry Park Dr., Perry, KS) will follow the service. Flowers are welcome; contributions can be made to The Historical Society of Lecompton or the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association, P.O. Box 1260 Lawrence, Kansas 66044.