Former GI Mayor Ken Gnadt dies at age 85

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) Former Grand Island Mayor Ken Gnadt died Wednesday evening at age 85.

Community leaders are reflecting on their time spent with Gnadt, and all the developments he created in Grand Island.

Gnadt was mayor of Grand Island from 1994-2002. He was known as an endless promoter of the city.

"He was like the city's dad, the city's grandpa, the city's brother, and I really mean that," said Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen. "He was so well liked by so many people, and truthfully just so well respected. Certainly it was very visible how much he loved the community of Grand Island."

During his tenure, he led the establishment of the city's hike and bike trails, supported the Heartland Events Center, led creation of the South Locust Business Improvement district and the construction of the I-80/South Locust interchange was begun.

Jensen said he saw Gnadt as a mentor. He said he started spending more time with him when he was first running for mayor.

"You know, I'll miss going over to his house and just sitting just he and I in his living room and just chatting about things. He's definitely one of the pillars of our community," Jensen said.

One city official said she grew very close with Gnadt over the past several years.

"This community has so much to thank Ken Gnadt for. It's a better community because of Ken Gnadt, and those of us who had the privilege of working with him are better because of him," said Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson said she will never forget the time she had with him.

"I think his interest was in the community of Grand Island. Now that's certainly been proven out over the decades of what he has been involved with and what he has done. Again there's not much in Grand Island that's good that Ken Gnadt didn't touch," Johnson said.

Both Jensen and Johnson said Gnadt was one of the most passionate people about the community they knew, and he will be very missed.

The visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday at All Faith's Funeral Home in Grand Island.

The funeral will be at 3 p.m. on Monday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Grand Island.

Both are open to the public.