John G. Poehling loved hunting, fishing and trapping, and operated a big-game ranch for a time near Fremont, Neb. But he was mostly known for developing the Woodcliff Lakes housing area.
Poehling died Monday at the Fremont Area Medical Center after a long illness, said his wife, Diane. He was 81.
Poehling was a longtime member of the Nebraska Safari Club, traveling worldwide to hunt and fish. At one time, he owned Woodcliff Big Game Ranch, which offered big-game hunting of Corsican ram, Russian boar and Angora goats.
“In 1987 to '88, he stopped the big-game ranch and started raising breeding stock of elk, rheas and emus there,” his wife said. He later sold the ranchland.
Poehling bought half the land for Woodcliff Lakes in 1964 and the other half in 1965, for a total of 860 acres, his wife said.
“There are artesian springs that fill the lake,” which is not a sand pit, she added.
When he stopped developing Woodcliff in 2000, the development had 450 homes, a full marina, pizza parlor, community center, restaurant, Lion's Club and museum, Diane Poehling said.
Poehling was an engineer and worked for the Leo A. Daly Co. before he started his own development firm. He also owned and operated Valley Lumber Co. while building Woodcliff.
He graduated from then-Valley High School and earned an engineering degree at the University of Nebraska. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1950 and was on active duty from 1951 to 1954 during the Korean War.
Besides his wife of 23 years, other survivors include son Patrick Poehling of Fremont; daughters Liesa Poehling of Fremont, Debra Poehling of Garland, Texas, and Diane Starkey of Garland; stepdaughters Tamara Webster and Kathryn Gerken, both of Omaha; 12 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
He was preceded in death by son Scott Poehling and stepdaughter Loretta Heasler.
Poehling's funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fremont.