The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Richard N. Cabela

1936 to 2014


Richard N. Cabela

1936 to 2014

Richard N. Cabela, who founded the outdoor gear company Cabela's, the world's largest direct marketer and a leading specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise died Monday, February 17, 2014. He was 77.

The heralded outdoor enthusiast and entrepreneur died peacefully in his home with his wife, Mary, at his side.

Richard N. "Dick" Cabela was born on Oct. 8, 1936 to Marian and A.C. Cabela. After a serious bout with polio as a child, Dick strove to live a life of adventure and purpose. He hiked the prairie hills chasing jack rabbits and eventually mule deer. Dick's passion for outdoor adventures inspired him to start selling hand-tied flies in 1961. After failing to sell a single fly in his father's hardware store in Chappell, Neb., he placed an ad in the Casper Tribune classifieds. That ad only received a single response. Dick had no idea how to give up-that concept never had meaning for him. So he tweaked the ad and placed it in the Sports Afield classifieds. Through years of slow growth, he, his wife, Mary, and his brother, Jim, created one of the best-known, most well-liked companies in America. Today Cabela's is a $3.6 billion company with more than 17,000 employees.

Dick had many passions in life, and chief among them were God, his family, his company, and the outdoors and he gave his whole heart to all his endeavors. He exemplified the possibilities of what can happen when you combine patience, hard work, and freedom. Dick believed that dreams inspire success and because he was willing to push himself beyond the false boundaries of perceived capabilities his foresight, his company, and his story have inspired millions of outdoor enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

Dick was a man who believed. He believed faith would guide him. He believed in hope. He believed in the abilities of those around him and trusted they would believe in themselves. Most of his decisions were rarely, if ever, about him. They were about his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his employees. And he made a dedicated effort to base those decisions on core Christian principles.

With his wife, Mary, Dick hunted and fished all over the world and through his travels, his family, and his company, his life has positively impacted people all around the globe. Whether a native tracker in Ethiopia or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Dick treated every person he met with respect.

"Dick and Jim made it possible for sportsmen and women to get quality outdoor products no matter where they lived," said Tommy Millner, Cabela's Chief Executive Officer. "They weren't the first to offer outdoor goods through the mail, but nobody did it better or with more care about providing customers a good value for their money."

Dick was a devoted husband, who cherished his wife without questions. He was the kind of father whose very existence was about the happiness of his children. And he was the kind of business leader who genuinely knew his success was never really his own, but from the combined effort of so many others. "Cabela's has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams because it became the dream of so many dedicated employees," he once said. "We simply surrounded ourselves with smart people and let them do their jobs."

Dick Cabela graduated from high school in 1954 and was given an Honorary Doctorate from Regis University in 2010. He was an Eagle Scout and a board member of many organizations including Cabela's, St. Patrick's School, Shikar, Regis Board of Trustees, Weatherby, U.S. Sportsman's Alliance, and the Direct Marketing Association. As a businessman he was honored with many awards, including induction with his brother, Jim, into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame in 2006. Dick and Jim were also named the Small Business Association's "Man of the Year" in 1970 and Ernst and Young Entrepreneurs of the Year in 1999.

Dick was honored with the prestigious C.J. McElroy Award in 2001 for his dedication to preserving and promoting the heritage and tradition of hunting. In 2007, Dick and Jim were honored by Outdoor Life magazine as being among the top 25 "most influential people in hunting and fishing"

Dick is survived by his wife, Mary, their nine children Nancy Cabela, Sidney, Geri King, Longmont, Teri Wolff, Sidney, Rich Cabela, Sidney, Chaz Cabela, Delray Beach Fla., Dan Cabela, Dripping Springs, TX, Carolyn Harvey, Colorado Springs, David Cabela, Lincoln, Joe Cabela, Dripping Springs, TX, 22 Grandchildren, and 15 Great grandchildren, as well as his two sisters, Jane Schmid and Diann McKenzie and three brothers Jim Cabela, Jerry Cabela and Tom Cabela. He was preceded in death his mother Marian and his father A.C. Cabela.

Funeral service to be held at Saint Patrick's Church in Sidney on Fri., Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. For more information please contact Gehrig-Stitt Chapel at 308-254-2055 or online at Memorial contributions may be made in Dick's name to Saint Patrick's Catholic Church.


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