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Omaha Magazine

Tony Abbott, Ron Palagi, and Frank Skrupa

Dec 22, 2017 01:13PM ● By Tony Abbott
These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits.

Tony Abbott, 75

I was born during World War II. My father was away in the Army, and my mother went to live with her parents in Hordville, Nebraska. So, in the beginning, I was a country boy. We later moved back to South Omaha where I began grade school. In the early ’50s, we moved to a house in the Blackstone area. I finished high school at Omaha Central and began studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

I found work at an aquarium store called the Fin Shop on South 14th Street. While there, I met Michael Harrison. We would work together for 30 years. He passed away in 1992.

In 1969, we began work at the French Café in the Old Market. Slowly the Old Market began to grow, and so did the French Café. I’m very proud and happy to have survived 42 years in the restaurant business. During that time, the name French Café was recognized in Omaha by residents and praised by the press locally, nationally, and internationally. I was also named “Maître-Conseil en Gastronomie Française” by the French government and presented with a medal.

I married late in life and was delighted to receive two beautiful girls. Sadly, I lost one of them to cardiac arrest due to asthma.

Happiness is having wonderful friends like Ron Palagi and Frank Skrupa (among others).

I was told many years ago, “You are born to die, so make the most of the life you are given and enjoy.”

Ronald Palagi, forever young

As a young boy, it was my dream to be an attorney who helped others. Yes, I’m living my dream.

I find happiness in cooking for and with loved ones and friends, and in great music and art.

I was blessed with loving parents, wonderful independent daughters, creative friends, and loves in many countries.

Laugh, cry, give thanks, and keep moving every day. Life is a mystery. Each day is an adventure.

Frank Skrupa, 85

I was born, raised, and entirely educated in Omaha. I married the right woman, who was delightful, humorous, and hard working. I worked with Rosemary for 40 years in business, and I’m proud Credit Advisors is still around after 60 years.

I have only lived in two houses in my life: my parents’ home, and the one I moved into when I married and raised a family. I still live there now.

I am proud of the friends who helped me along the way, and my three children, Frank, Sam, and Carlo. As Rosemary, an attorney herself, would say, “Two are attorneys, and one is a success.”

What makes me happiest? BS-ing with friends over good wine and food, my children, and (in a pinch) reasonable relatives.

Humor is the secret to a good life. Also, cut back to just one bottle of wine a day. Exercise is for dogs and horses. I tried golf once but gave it up when I realized the better you get, the less you get to hit the ball.

This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

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