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Arnie Babl Inducted Into Irish Hall of Fame This Year

Mar 13, 2024 (0)

ARNIE BABL (center) with his two sons Johnny and A.J. Babl.

Arnie Babl is this year's living recipient of the Irish Hall of Fame award. Arnie was born August 7, 1938 on the family farm Northwest of O'Neill. He graduated from St. Mary's Catholic High School in 1957. He went to work helping his father John Babl Sr. on the farm and in 1960 he started selling cars part time for Alvie Marcellus. His first day working for Alvie he sold his first car which was a 1961 Chevy Impala to lifelong friend Rich Shelhamer. In 1961 he started to work for Contois' Motors in Clearwater, NE who he'd continue to do business with until 1983 when he started Frontier Auto Sales in O'Neill with Peps McIntire. Over the years he lent many of his cars and convertibles to the St. Patrick's Parade for various people and floats.

In 1960 he became the first bartender for Joe and Helen Grutsch when they purchased the Ski-Hi Bar and worked there in the evenings, eventually buying it from Helen in 1974. That started his love for St. Patrick's Day. He helped organize many years of road trips in the green bus, promoting O'Neill as the Irish Capital of Nebraska. In 1977,  Arnie was the St. Patrick's Booster Club Chairman and picked Al Hamik as his co-chairman. That year they raised more money than any other year at that time. Arnie and Pete Mathews would travel to all the surrounding towns buying up all the green food coloring they could find to help get ready to paint the famous Green Horse. He always served a free breakfast on the Sunday of St. Pats. 

Arnie also had a love of flying and in 1967 he started KB Aerial Spraying with Walt Kopecky before starting Babl Aerial Spraying in 1970 and flew until he decided to retire from the skies in 1986. 

In 1993, he sold the Ski-Hi but fourteen months later he turned around he bought Dugan's Bar from Jim and Jeannie Dugan and renamed it Arnie's Shamrock Bar where he loved to serve green beer by the gallons until he sold it in 2001. His sons, AJ was born in 1995, Joey in 1996, and Johnny in 1999. 

His love for O'Neill and St. Patrick's Day has been strong and unwavering for over six decades and he has always enjoyed celebrating and having fun with many of his friends and family over the years and is honored to forever be part of O'Neill's St. Patrick's Day history on the Irish Walk of Fame. 


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