OBITUARY: Zaruba was longtime art professor, MONA founder

Gary Zaruba MUGGary E. Zaruba, 74, of Kearney, died Thursday, October 16, 2014, at CHI Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.

Memorial services will be Monday, October 20, 2014, at 4 p.m. at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney with Fr. Jerry Ness officiating. There will be no visitation.

Horner Lieske McBride & Kuhl Funeral and Cremation Services in Kearney is in charge of arrangements.

Zaruba taught art design for nearly 40 years at Kearney State College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In 1976, he helped establish the Nebraska Art Collection, which eventually became the Museum of Nebraska Art.

A native of Fullerton, Zaruba earned a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a master’s degree from Kearney State College and Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He began teaching at KSC in 1965, and was professor emeritus since 2004.

During his career, he mentored hundreds of art students and future artists.

When MONA opened in 1986, Zaruba was named director/curator. Between 1990 and 1993, he served on the fundraising committee for the renovation and expansion of the MONA building. He was an instructor for the MONA Docent Program since it began in 1986, and a board member and emeritus board member for 37 years.

Zaruba’s specific interest was in 19th century art. In 2006, he helped acquire six important 19th century pieces for MONA. He then founded the Bison Society for individuals who share this passion for art from this era.

In recognition of his dedication to MONA, Zaruba is being honored with the creation of the Gary E. Zaruba Endowment Fund, which will allow for the purchase of 19th century art and improvements to the library. The museum is working to raise $125,000.

In addition to art, the endowment will help make improvements to the Gary E. Zaruba library, which includes new carpet, cabinets, window seats and a table and chairs.

3 thoughts on “OBITUARY: Zaruba was longtime art professor, MONA founder

  1. Blessings to the family of Gary. (Mr. Z,) May peace be with you all at this time. I was privileged to share time with him while running my art supply shop as well as when I was a Grad Assistant in the Art Dept. at the college.
    I have also taught a summer camp at Mona for kids- which was great fun.
    We are all so thankful of his vision for Mona! peace for all Flo Flynn

  2. So sorry to read this, Dr. Zaruba was the most influential professor I ever had. He will truly be missed.

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