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Dan Remigio, shown in 1979, managed the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant during its heyday. He also was instrumental in establishing Junior Achievement in Lincoln. The retired Marine died last month at 99.

In his last years, Dan Remigio’s family would drive him around Lincoln so he could see the changing city and the memories he’d made while helping it grow.

Remigio was 99 when he died Dec. 17.

He was a retired Marine who managed the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant during its heyday. A businessman who brought Junior Achievement to town and served the United Way, Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce. And a German shepherd lover who helped keep the Lincoln Police Department’s K-9 unit strong.

“Dan was a unique personality,” said retired Goodyear manager Earl Hatfield. “I don’t know if it was the Italian in him or the Marine in him.”

Whatever it was, the father, grandfather, great-grandfather and loyal Lincolnite was a force.

His high expectations for himself and for others led to much success for the north Lincoln plant, said Stan Patzel, who along with dozens of others was mentored by Remigio.

“He built the Lincoln plant from a very small operation to 2,200 employees and numerous expansions,” Patzel said. “He was a helluva guy.”

A family man and a community-minded man, too, Patzel said.

In 1971, Remigio spearheaded an effort to bring Junior Achievement to town after being encouraged by his boss at Goodyear’s Akron, Ohio, headquarters.

The story is that Remigio didn't know quite what that was, said Tera Norris, president of JA of Lincoln.

“He told his boss, ‘As soon as you tell me what JA is, I’ll tell you why we don’t have it,’” Norris said.

And as soon as he understood the value — teaching young people how to start and grow a business — he was all-in.

“He called around and probably elbowed a circle of prominent Lincoln men … to get it going,” Norris said.

Remigio raised funds and provided a building on the Goodyear campus free of charge for more than 30 years, said Ken Carlson, who was recruited from the Goodyear ranks to lead the chapter.

“His expectations were high and he expected you to meet 'em and praised you if you did,” Carlson said. “And if you didn’t, you better try harder next time.”

Carlson credits Remigio’s persistence in expanding the presence of JA to 31,000 students in a 12-county area.

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And Remigio remained a force in the organization until the end, most recently serving on the board of trustees.

“He’d come to all the events,” Norris said. “He’d call and email me advice all the time and it was always great advice.”

Remigio served in World War II, a lieutenant colonel leading his unit’s charge in the second landing on the beaches of Iwo Jima.

Remigio grew up in Ohio and he and his wife, Lillian Jane, raised four children in Lincoln. After he retired from Goodyear in 1984, Remigio spent several years helping graduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln develop business plans.

He gathered with retired Goodyear employees each Friday at Cook’s Cafe to talk about old times and the current state of affairs.

“He was such a Lincoln person,” Hatfield said. “And he remained friends with so many Goodyear people.”

His love for his own German shepherd — and his concern for the city’s safety — inspired him to become a benefactor for the Lincoln Police Department’s K-9 Unit.

“He had read in the paper that a police dog had passed away and he wanted to do something,” Patzel said.

So back in 2006, Remigio and his friend, Bob Northrup, picked up their phones and raised $30,000, said LPD Capt. Danny Reitan, commander of the K-9 Unit.

Remigio's financial commitment continued until his death and expanded to include his family, with gifts to the unit in honor of birthdays and Father’s Day, Reitan said.

“He was just an all-around good guy. Dan was super proud of the canines ... and not just the dogs, he would ask about us, how we were doing.”

Last Saturday, K-9 Unit officers and their dogs served as honorary pallbearers at Remigio’s celebration of life service at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church.

They stood for much of the service, Patzel said.

And his old boss deserved the honor.

“Those of us who worked for Dan and were bettered by Dan, owe Dan a lot.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @TheRealCLK.

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Columnist

Cindy Lange-Kubick joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1994 and has loved covering life in her hometown ever since. Will write for chocolate. Or coffee.

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