October 25, 1916-June 11, 2004
John E. Mohr, Jr. was born to John and Ethel Mohr at O’Neill, Nebraska. Growing up in Holt County, his first job as a youngster was at the Ditch Camp southwest of O’Neill. It was there he first started working with and using horses. After eighth grade graduation, he felt he needed to help support his family, so he went to work on the 10,000 acre Charley W. Peterson ranch south of Atkinson for 25 cents per day. His entrepreneur skills became apparent when he started buying colts anywhere from 25 cents to $2.00, put 30 to 60 days riding on them and then sold them for no less than $25 when a truck came by the ranch to pick them up. He continued working for Charley throughout his youth and even when a good friend wanted him to go on the Pro Rodeo Circuit to ride saddle broncs, he though the responsible decision was to stay home and work.
When he turned 22 in 1938, he and Eleanor M. Stanek, a neighbor’s daughter were married and Johnny became the foreman on the Peterson Ranch. Charley and Johnny made many trips throughout the country purchasing livestock. One of the more memorable trips for John was when they went to Montana purchasing Simco Sarcee and General Custer, both Appaloosa stallions and started and adventure which eventually made Charley the largest Appaloosa breeder in the world.
When Eleanor’s parents passed away, the couple built a new house in 1955 on the Stanek Ranch and John continued to build a herd of Angus cattle and began raising registered Quarter Horses. He was particular about his livestock and the ranch, always looking to make improvements. Whether it was fencing, shelter belts, water, buildings or animals, each year there were updates on the agenda.
John and Eleanor became the parents of two daughters, Judy and Jean, but they also opened their home to one niece and several nephews. The nephews would spend summers at the ranch working in the hayfield and getting to show livestock, often opening their own first bank account with animals that were given to them.
When Johnny’s only brother passed away, one niece and nephew came at a young age and remained with the family until graduating from high school.
Livestock from the Mohr Ranch made their way to the Nebraska State Fair, the Ak-Sar-Ben Livestock Show and the Denver National Livestock Show. John was instrumental in forming the Atkinson High School Rodeo Association, serving on the Board of Directors, working to construct the arena, building bucking chutes as well as the roping and dogging boxes. He served as one of the first Adult Directors of the organization and continued to support the youth who rodeoed throughout his life. He was also a member of the Atkinson Lion’s Club, which began sponsoring the Mid-States Rodeo in Atkinson every year.
When Johnny began working on a ranch as a youngster and got to work with horses, he developed a love for taking care of the land and animals which carried with him throughout his 87 years. During his life, he gave to others by helping young people with livestock, giving many of them calves or horses to fulfill childhood dreams or to simply help them get started in life. John was a member of the United Methodist Church, the American Angus Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, a 20 plus year leader in 4-H, as well as the Atkinson Lion’s Club and the Ord Elk’s Club. He was an honorary member of the Nebraska Sheriff’s Association. He and his wife Eleanor were both lifelong residents of Holt County. Johnny’s greatest contributions were undoubtedly the number of lives he touched, especially youth. Johnny Mohr never knew a stranger and if he met you once, he never forgot you. He remained an honest and courteous individual throughout his life, passing a great legacy on to his family. In 2011, the Stanek/Mohr Ranch which he helped to build was honored for being in the family for 100 years.