Longtime Omaha commercial real estate banker Robert Horak of Omaha died Sunday at age 86.
Son Jeff said his father had a heart condition and fell at home. Ambulance and hospital crews were unable to revive him, Jeff Horak said.
Robert Horak was a vice president of First National Bank of Omaha until he retired three years ago. “He loved his job,” his son said Monday.
Bob Horak received Omaha University's first real estate scholarship and graduated in 1951.
He started working for the Otis Co. in 1950, formed Robin Hill Real Estate Co. in 1953 and then joined the National Co., developing new subdivisions.
When First National acquired the National Co. in 1965, Horak essentially started the bank's commercial real estate division, said First National CEO Dan O'Neill.
“He was a humble guy and had a really wry sense of humor, and he could just cut right to the point,” O'Neill said. “He knew the people, knew the area.
“He had an uncanny ability to listen to a real estate project and very quickly determine if it was going to be successful or not. He was probably the most well-known man, when it came to commercial real estate, within the city.”
Horak was named lender of the year in 1998 by the Nebraska Mortgage Association, and in 2003 he was named to the Commercial Real Estate Workshop Hall of Fame.
He worked on projects throughout the area, including the Miracle Hills Office Park, the First National Business Park and Linden Estates II.
In 1994 Horak noted that First National wanted to lend money for housing projects that improved downtown Omaha, which he saw as a welcome sign of residential growth in the city's center.
“Downtown has evolved from a dying commercial center to a residential and cultural neighborhood, complemented by work-hour office and commercial uses,” he said. “Downtown was never, even in its heyday, a 24-hour environment, and it's quickly becoming that.”
Horak was a member of Omaha 100, the Holy Name Housing Board and the Downtown Rotary Club and was active in the University of Nebraska at Omaha Alumni Association and St. Thomas More Catholic Church.
Other survivors include his wife, Lillian; brother, Richard; sons Robert Jr. of Eureka, Ill., and Daniel of Omaha; daughters Sharon Burns, Sandy O'Neal, Mary Horak and Nancy Roberts, all of Omaha; 14 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation at St. Thomas More, 48th and Grover Streets, begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, followed by a 7 p.m. wake service, with a funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. Friday.