Frank Bernard Cernik
March 1, 1928 – February 26, 2020
Preceded in death by parents, Frank and Bessie Cernik; sister, Marie Smith; and sister-in-law, Elaine Cernik. Survived by wife, Phyllis; daughters, Diane Cernik and Julie Chochon (Scott); sons, Scott Cernik (Pam) and Kevin Cernik; stepchildren, Joni Albers (Rick) and Jami Snow (Mitch); eight grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; brother, Ray Cernik; and brother-in-law, Don Smith.
Family will receive friends Sunday, March 1st from 3pm to 5pm, at the West Center Chapel followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 5pm. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Monday, March 2nd, 10:30am, St. Patrick Catholic Church of Gretna (508 W. Angus St., Gretna) GRAVESIDE SERVICE: 2pm, St. Francis Cemetery in Wahoo. Memorials are suggested to St. Patrick Catholic Church of Gretna.
Frank B Cernik was born on March 1st, 1928 on a family homestead east of Wahoo, Nebraska. He was the middle of three children by Frank M. Cernik and Bozena (Bessie) Zimola. He grew up on the farm and loved farming. Frank had always said he would be a farmer all his life if had it not been for an accident when he was 18 years old losing part of his right hand. He then sold Kirby vacuums and worked at a packing plant. It was the job that Frank had when he was 14 that would be the key to his future. He worked at the roller-skating rink in Wahoo assisting customers with their clamp-on skates.
In 1946, Frank opened his first roller skating rink, which was portable and included a maple floor enclosed by a large tent. The rink was moved to various towns in eastern Nebraska from Wahoo to Tekamah. One summer the tent burned to the ground as someone had thrown a cigarette on top of it. In 1950, Frank purchased Harker’s roller rink in Fremont Nebraska at 16th and Bell Street and named it Fremont Roller Rink. Behind the rink was a garage and Frank and his father-in-law converted it into a small home for his family. He turned the rink into a wholesome ‘family-friendly’ facility. Frank traveled to school carnivals with a spinning wheel and provided small prizes and free passes to kids to help market the skating rink. He was an endless promoter. In 1960, he built a rink from the ground up on Military Street in Fremont and called it Roller Village.
Later, Frank used a drafting table in the basement of his home in Fremont to work on a new floor plan that would become the new concept for his next roller-skating center. He moved his family to Omaha in 1967 and built Skateland on 108th and Q opening December of 1968. Along with this ground-breaking design, Frank implemented strict rules-of-conduct. Blue jeans and hair below the collar were not permitted. Business exploded as he gave roller skating a new image. Rink operators from all-around came to visit and see what “this guy from Nebraska” was doing. Frank’s rink had many innovations that were ‘firsts’ in the roller-skating industry. Frank sold his blueprints to numerous operators who began building new rinks around the country based on his design. This led to a boom throughout the industry in the 1970’s and led into the ‘Disco Era’ of roller skating.
Expansion followed with 9 new skating rinks that opened between 1970 and 1982. Locations in Bellevue Nebraska, Irvington (I-680 & Military) Nebraska, Brooklyn Park Minnesota, Burnsville Minnesota, Tempe Arizona, Mesa Arizona, Fargo North Dakota, 84th & F in Omaha, and his final Skateland location at 132nd and B in Omaha. He was believed to have the largest privately-owned roller-skating chain in the United States. During this time Frank also built his corporate office near 128th and Q.
Always the entrepreneur and on the move, Frank was involved in many other endeavors with Victory Marine in the early 1960’s in Fremont Nebraska and Griff’s Burgers on 74th and Dodge in the mid 1960’s. The original Omaha Skating Center was renovated into Golfland (indoor miniature golf) in the early 1980’s. He built Mid City Plaza in 1982 next to his rink on 84th and F.
Frank’s first love was always roller skating and the ‘clean family fun’ that he provided for families. It is believed by his family (but not proven) that he may be responsible for more marriages in Omaha than any other businessman? Frank has always felt that ‘boy meets girl’ was one of the most important aspects of his business model.
Frank volunteered countless hours of his time and talent as a Roller-Skating Association (RSA) board member, serving as Vice President and Treasurer. Because of his many contributions, developments, and advancements in the roller-skating industry, he was awarded Operator of the Year and later inducted into the RSA’s Hall of Fame, the most coveted and prestigious award in the roller skating industry. Frank was also awarded a RSA Life Membership. After his retirement he also served on the board of the Roller-Skating Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Frank loved to fly and obtained his pilot license in the early 1960’s while still living in Fremont. Over the years he owned several airplanes and used them to travel to his various out-of-town Skateland locations. When Frank and Phyllis were not working, they enjoyed traveling in their custom motorhome.
Frank is preceded in death by his parents, sister Marie Smith, sister-in-law Elaine Cernik, grandchild Dana Sharon, and first wife Marian (Pokorny) Cernik.
Frank is survived by his wife of over forty years, Phyllis, brother Ray Cernik, brother-in-law Donald Smith and Frank’s four children: Diane Cernik, Scott Cernik and wife Pam, Kevin Cernik, and Julie Chochon and husband Scott, all residing in Omaha. Two stepchildren: Joni Albers and husband Rick of Idaho Springs, Colorado and Jami Snow and husband Mitch of Wahoo, Nebraska. Eight grandchildren: Kory Cernik, Kyle Cernik, Brieanna Huerta and husband Tyler, Brandon Cernik, Taylor Hargitt, Cambell Hargitt, Dustin Sharon, and Kareem Stuart and wife Brandy. Six Great Grandchildren: Kye and Naomi Cernik, Shea Bickford, Ryker and Rylan Huerta, and Eli Stuart.