Beatrice native Bill Sapp, ‘generous’ co-founder of Sapp Bros., dies at 86

Beatrice native Bill Sapp, ‘generous’ co-founder of Sapp Bros., dies at 86
William Sapp

William “Bill” Sapp of Ashland, Nebraska, was the last surviving brother of the four co-founders of Sapp Bros. Inc., a national chain of travel centers and more.

Sapp, 86, died Thursday, less than a week after his brother Lee’s death, on March 30.

Both brothers had suffered from Alzheimer’s, but the closeness of their deaths was unexpected, said Bill’s wife, Lucille Sapp.

To his family, he was “wonderful, loyal and generous,” Lucille Sapp, said. And for her, “he was a great companion for 66 years” of marriage.

A native of Beatrice, Bill Sapp

graduated from Fairbury Community College in 1951 and began teaching in east-central Nebraska, at Polk Junior High School, where he met his future wife.

He joined the Army, and they married a short time later.

After the war, he majored in education at the University of Nebraska, graduating in 1958. Sapp taught briefly in Franklin, Nebraska, and worked for a short time for Prudential Insurance.

But he and his brothers — Ray, Dean and Lee Sapp — had bigger plans. They pooled their money and bought a car dealership in Ashland, before shifting to truck stops. What started as a single gas station at Interstate 80 and Nebraska Highway 50 grew into a chain of 17 travel centers in nine states, with their logo based on an iconic coffee pot water tower.

Bill Sapp served as president of the Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and was a member of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators.

In his personal life, he dove into religious ministries. Sapp, a member of Word of Hope Lutheran Church in Ashland, was involved in Gideons International and served on the Omaha-area board of Good News Prison and Jail Ministries. He founded Ashland Men in Mission, which for years has brought men together once a month for breakfast and inspirational speakers.

His survivors include his wife; daughters Suzanne Richard of Ashland, Nancy Edwards of Gretna, Mary Ziegenbein of Ashland and Cindy Rieke of Omaha; nine grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and sister Zelma Drake of Norfolk, Nebraska.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Hurless and Emily (Hubka) Sapp, his brothers and a sister, Veloura Barnard.

Services will include a sharing of memories at 7 p.m. Thursday at Riverview Community Church in Ashland and a funeral 10:30 a.m. Friday at Christ Community Church, 404 S. 108th Ave. in Omaha.

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