Boyer To Be Inducted Into Omaha Business Hall of Fame 4/23/14 04/22/14 11:01:11 PM
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Hall of Fame Inductee John Boyer’s office reflects his interest in animals, art and adventure. Included in his collection is an autographed photo of David Breashears at the summit of Mount Everest. His climb (one of many) resulted in the IMAX film Everest, which was shown at the Henry Doorly Zoo’s IMAX theater, a place very close to Boyer’s heart.
Six To Be Honored
Fraser Stryker’s Boyer To Be Inducted
Into Omaha Business Hall of Fame
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
While he may never have been hired as your attorney, it is not a stretch to say that John K. Boyer has represented you.
Boyer, a partner at Fraser Stryker PC LLO, has been named a member of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Omaha Business Hall of Fame, joining five other outstanding community leaders in the Class of 2014.
It was 45 years ago that Boyer, fresh out of the University of Nebraska College of Law, joined Fraser Stryker. In fact, a lot of things happened for Boyer in that year of 1969.
One of them was, two weeks after he graduated from law school, he passed the bar exam as offered in those days.
“It was a very quick process,” Boyer admitted.
He also started working at Fraser Stryker, received his draft notice, joined the Nebraska Army National Guard in November, went on six months active duty, remaining in the Guard until 1975, and married his wife, Lynne.
“1969 was a busy year,” he agrees. “Good thing my wife was teaching school. … We had enough money to live on while I was in basic training.”
The Boyers have two extremely successful sons.
What drew Boyer to a career in the legal profession?
“I think from the time I was probably in junior high on … I just got kind of an interest in the law,” he remembered.
Good thing for this community that he was – Boyer has been involved in so many things. Born and raised in Omaha, he graduated from Benson High School where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Southern Methodist University.
During his career, Boyer has served as general counsel to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, has been on the board of directors for the Chamber since 1996, and has chaired the Chamber board.
“Our firm still represents the Chamber,” Boyer proudly stated. “We’ve been involved with a lot of their projects, all over town, for a very long time.
“My focus, throughout my career, has been corporations and taxation,” he said. That includes for profit and nonprofit operations. … The corporate area laps over into a lot of different things.”
A long-time member of the Omaha Bar Association, Nebraska State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association, Boyer’s corporate affiliations include service on the board of directors of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and Walter Scott’s Tetrad Corp. He also has been a board member at the Walter and Suzanne Scott Foundation, as well as the Dixon Family Foundation, plus the Clifton and Anne Stuart Batchelder Foundation.
The Boy Scouts also have benefitted from Boyer’s legal skills. He “kind of grew up” in the organization and earned his Eagle Scout badge, and later served as legal counsel for the Boy Scouts.
“I was chairman of the [Mid-America] Council for 10 years,” Boyer recalled. “It was just a way I could kind of give back [for] the great experiences of my youth.”
Boyer has been on the board of directors of the Omaha Zoological Society for the better part of 30 years, serving as president for about 20 years. He continues to serve on the board and its executive committee.
“I’ve been deeply involved in most of the projects of the last two decades,” he said, including the acquisition of the Rosenblatt Stadium site for the zoo.
“It’s just been one extremely rewarding experience for me,” Boyer stated.
He points out, as a Business Hall-of-Famer should, that the zoo has a $143-million dollar annual economic impact on his home state. That, he explains, is bigger than Cornhusker football, as the zoo drew an attendance of more than 1.6 million people last year, or more than double its surrounding population base.
“That’s really unheard of,” Boyer stated, pointing to the zoo’s more than 75,000 members.
“Those numbers are extraordinary numbers in the zoo world,” he emphasized.
The Henry Doorly Zoo is a Top Five zoo, worldwide, all things considered, Boyer stressed.
“The zoo is a big business.”
The latest addition – on the old Rosenblatt site – is the “Infield at the Zoo” presentation, which commemorates the stadium’s original home plate and recognizes the stadium’s legacy.
Boyer also has fond memories of the time in 1996 when he helped bring one of the zoo’s most prominent residents home to Omaha.
The Cincinnati Zoo had produced the world’s first test-tube gorilla baby. Timu was Omaha bound, but help was needed to transport her to Nebraska.
Her ride to Omaha came on a plane, sitting in Boyer’s lap.
“She had a diaper on,” he said, and while there was that amusing aspect to the trip, Timu was a key to building the zoo’s gorilla family.
Her addition to the gene pool allowed the zoo to expand its gorilla population, with two offspring so far joining the group in Gorilla Valley. “Very important to the collection,” Boyer emphasized.
But the thought of the now 200-to-220-pound gorilla wearing a diaper while sitting on Boyer’s lap is the stuff of which great smiles and memories are made.
It also can be said that Boyer played a role in helping to keep the College World Series for Omaha. “Indirectly, I would say,” he humbly agrees, admitting College World Series Inc. deserves most of the credit.
The College World Series was played at Rosenblatt Stadium, in those days, where the Omaha Royals (now Storm Chasers) were the primary tenant. The team’s owner from 1986 to 1991 was Gus Cherry, and word was out that he was interested in selling the club. If the team left Omaha – a possibility if it were sold – the city was thought to be less likely to make the improvements to Rosenblatt Stadium that would be needed for the NCAA to keep the CWS in Omaha.
There was no need to worry, Boyer said, as two people – Walter Scott and Warren Buffett – and one corporation – the Union Pacific – stepped up.
But first, due to Scott’s involvement with the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben which had a racetrack (read ‘gambling’), major league baseball had a problem with his ownership. Boyer, who had worked with Buffett and had represented Scott, knew they needed an entity to own the team.
Sitting around an office one afternoon – batting around ideas – the concept of Fungo, Inc. – named for the practice of tossing a baseball in the air and hitting it – was born. The corporation, Fungo, Inc., purchased the team – leading to 22 years of ownership – and the CWS was saved.
“It allowed the city to make investments in Rosenblatt,” Boyer said.
These days – in the wake of the zoo’s acquisition of the Rosenblatt property – Boyer looks forward to the second phase of new projects at the zoo.
You can expect them to be memorable, as are so many other projects in which Boyer has been involved.
The annual Business Hall of Fame inductions are done to recognize outstanding business leaders of the past and present whose professional accomplishments are historically significant to Omaha’s development.
In addition to Boyer, this year’s inductees are: Irvin Blumkin, chief executive officer, Nebraska Furniture Mart; Louis Blumkin (deceased), chairman emeritus, Nebraska Furniture Mart; Ronald Blumkin, president and chief operating officer, Nebraska Furniture Mart; Paul Jessen (deceased), president/founder, Koley Jessen PC LLO; and Aldo Tesi, chairman and chief executive officer, Election Systems and Software.
The 2014 Omaha Business Hall of Fame Gala sponsors are Fraser Stryker, KPMG LLP and U.S. Bank.
This year’s class will be inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame at a gala celebration today, at the Holland Performing Arts Center.
Boyer admits he was surprised with his selection to the Business Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been very humbled by it,” he added. “It’s a wonderful honor.”