Jim Egan was fascinated with airplanes.
He grew up in South Omaha, not far from its now-closed airport, and started taking lessons there as a teenager.
By the time he turned 15 — old enough to get a pilot's license — he had done all the needed flying time and completed all the paperwork.
His first plane was a Piper Cub without an electrical system. That meant no radio, no lights, no electric gauges, no nighttime flights.
“He sold that plane in 1954 to buy mom her wedding ring,” said son Jim Egan of Omaha.
James R. Egan Sr., a longtime pilot and Omaha businessman, died Wednesday at Hospice House-The Josie Harper Residence. He was 80 and died of complications from a stroke suffered two years ago, his son said.
The elder Egan started Egan Supply Co., a janitorial supply company in Omaha, in 1966. He sold the business in 1997 to sons Jim, Dan of Omaha and Pat of Lincoln.
Egan Sr. was a founding member of the Nebraska Sanitary Supply Association and belonged to the International Sanitary Supply Association. He also was a Rotarian.
Before starting his own company, he worked for an Omaha Stockyards business that bought and sold cattle on commission. He also was a partner with his father and brother in a feedlot on the Bellevue land where Beardmore Chevrolet now sits.
Besides his sons, his survivors include his wife of 58 years, Ann Wachter Egan; children Kate Gilloon of Omaha, Molly Witt of Omaha and John Egan of Minneapolis; and 23 grandchildren.
His funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 6116 Dodge St.