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Lee Sapp, one of Sapp Bros. founders, dies

April 3, 2019

Lee Sapp, who along with his three brothers founded Sapp Bros. Inc., died Saturday in Ashland at age 90.

The Sapp brothers were known for their chain of travel centers with the signature coffee pot-shaped signs. The first one was built in Omaha in 1971, and there are now 17 locations in nine states. The company, which has annual revenue of more than $1.5 billion, also provides gasoline and other fuels.

But the family had many other businesses as well. The brothers actually got their start in business with a car dealership in Ashland that now bears Lee Sapp’s name, and they owned several other dealerships. They also at one point owned a bank, a telephone company and were involved in land development.

Lee Sapp also was known for his support of the University of Nebraska and state college systems. He and his wife, Helene, have their names on the fieldhouse used by the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s sports teams, as well as a building that is part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus recreation facility.

Sapp and his brother Bill also gave $500,000 in 2012 to help pay for renovation of the Oak Bowl, Peru State College’s football stadium.

In 2015, Lee and Bill Sapp were inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame.

Lee Sapp, who was born on a farm near Auburn and graduated from Pawnee City High School, was a Navy veteran who served in the Korean War.

He was preceded in death by his wife, a daughter, two brothers and two sisters. Survivors include his son, Lee, two grandchildren, his brother Bill and a sister.

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