Don was born April 7, 1949, in Columbus, Nebraska to Edward and Edna Oppliger. He graduated from Columbus High School in Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska.
He married Joi Christopher on Aug. 14, 1976, in Blair, Nebraska.
Don owned and operated the Don Oppliger Companies, which include feedlots, farms, and ranches spread across roughly 150,000 acres in Texas, New Mexico, and Nebraska. He began his business in 1980 with rented farmland in Hereford and quickly began expanding it with the purchase of a 15,000 head feedlot in Farwell. Don then acquired a 35,000 head feedlot in Clovis, New Mexico in 1991 and later purchased his first Nebraska farm in Lincoln County, Nebraska, on which he built at 55,000 head feedlot, which he later expanded to 70,000 head. In the last decade, Don acquired multiple ranches across Eastern and Western Nebraska and additional farmland and feedlots in Nebraska and Texas. His integrated and diversified operations also included a dairy and a trucking company. Despite the complexity of the operation, Don somehow managed to track the many details of his businesses in his head and a small notepad he kept in his shirt pocket.
He loved cattle and enjoyed checking on his many pastures and feedlots from the cockpit of his plane or helicopters. Aside from attending Nebraska Cornhusker games, farming and flying were his favorite hobbies. “People say he died doing what he loved,” Ben Oppliger said. “That’s really true.”
Although Oppliger was a successful and wealthy landowner, he also was down-to-earth and always willing to make time for a visit, said Joe Herrod, who owns property neighboring Oppliger’s west of Sutherland. Outside of the industry, few people knew he was such a large operator, Herrod added. “He was a wonderful neighbor, just an aw-shucks kind of guy,” he said. “It’s really a shame.”
He was preceded in death by a son, Grant Oppliger; and a sister, Lori Prill.
Survivors include his wife, Joi Oppliger, of Amarillo; a son, Benjamin Oppliger and wife Katie, of Amarillo; a granddaughter, Madison Oppliger, of Amarillo; three sisters, Rita Peters and husband Don of Elkhorn, Nebraska, Diane Thompson and husband Joe, of Lincoln, Nebraska and Phyllis Olson and husband Ralph, of Columbus, Nebraska.
The family will receive friends from 6-7 p.m., Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at the funeral home.
Services will be at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, June 8, 2017, at Polk Street United Methodist Church with Dr. Burt Palmer, senior pastor and the Rev. Kevin Deckard, associate pastor, officiating. Burial will follow at 4:00 p.m., in Farwell Cemetery in Farwell, Texas. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.