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Donald Ostendorf, 85 - June 26, 2011


Donald Ostendorf, 85, of North Platte, formerly of Gothenburg, passed away Sunday, June 26, 2011, at his home in North Platte with family at his bedside.
Services will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 1, at the First Lutheran Church at North Platte, conducted by Carpenter Memorial Chapel. Burial will be at Fort McPherson National Cemetery south of Maxwell.
Ostendorf was born July 22, 1925, at North Platte, and was adopted by John and Bertha (Gerdes) Ostendorf at a very early age and raised in Gothenburg.
He enlisted with the U.S. Navy upon graduation from high school, serving as a flight navigator with the first-ever Navy land-based bomber squadron, flying missions out of the Aleutian Islands during World War II.
In May of 1947, he was united in marriage to Dorothy Hartford. To this union, eight children were born.
Ostendorf, known as “the legendary 88,” began his racing career in 1949 that spanned nearly 20 years. He became one of the toughest and most successful short track drivers Nebraska has ever produced, said family members.
In 1953 and 1954, he won the NASCAR Sportsman Championship for the state of Nebraska as well as many track championships throughout Central Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota, and was the Nebraska State NASCAR Champion for five years.
He participated in Nebraska’s only NASCAR Grand National event on July 26, 1953, at North Platte, against such national stars as Lee Petty, Tim Flock and Dick Rathman, and also raced in the National Open for NASCAR Sportsman at Langhorne, PA, in 1954.
In 2002, Ostendorf was inducted into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
A love for motorcycles and automobiles prompted his lifetime vocation as an automobile mechanic. Upon discharge from the Navy, he moved to North Platte and managed a gas station and garage, working for Don McLaughlin and other garages, Central Nebraska Packing Company as a diesel mechanic and shop foreman.
?Ostendorf then spent 20 years with the Union Pacific Railroad as a machinist, retiring in 1990. He simultaneously started Don’s Repair and Salvage after moving east of Maxwell in 1960, which he owned and operated until March of 2011.
He was a member and served as Quartermaster of the VFW Post 1504 as well as being an active member of the North Platte Eagles Club Aerie 2839.
One of his proudest accomplishments was his tenure as a North Platte Volunteer Fireman for over 17 years, according to family members.
His large and extended family is what he treasured most, said family members. He had a unique humor and orneriness about him, and a love of shooting pool, gambling at the Rosebud Casino, playing cards, and receiving the joy and gratification from helping others.
Ostendorf was preceded in death by: his parents, John and Bertha; a great-granddaughter, Alex Jeffers.
Survivors include: his wife, Dorothy; his son, Ronald (Cindi) Ostendorf of North Platte; seven daughters—Donna Hilderbrand of Colorado Springs, CO, Jan (Evan) Mehl of Crete, Bonnie (Tom) Rector and Tammy (Treverr) Menghini, all of North Platte, Patricia (Phil) Miller of Cody, and twins Cindee (Tracy) Wright of Cabot, AR, and Mindee (Mike) Mohr, also of North Platte; 32 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

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