HomeServices of Nebraska recently hired Cortney Denker as Education Manager of the Larabee School of Real Estate and Jane Bartunek as Executive Assistant to the CEO.

Cortney Denker

Cortney Denker

Denker will oversee and promote real estate agent education programs at the Larabee School of Real Estate. She graduated with a degree in marketing and management from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. In addition to some marketing experience, she also worked as a business analyst for a liquor distributor in Omaha. She recently moved back to her hometown of Lincoln with her husband, Tyler, a CPA, to be closer to family. Outside work, she loves running and spending time with her family, friends, and their dog, Milo, a Golden Retriever.

Jane Bartunek

Jane Bartunek

Bartunek is transferring to the corporate office to assist the CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska. Bartunek also grew up in Lincoln and is an East High graduate. She previously worked at the HOME Real Estate Pioneer Greens office as office manager for more than 20 years, and she also served as the MLS Administrator at the REALTORS® Association of Lincoln for nearly 10 years. Bartunek and her husband, Steve, have been married for 25 years and have a cat named Lucky. She enjoys NHRA Drag Racing, riding Harley Davidson motorcycles and down time at home.

HomeServices of Nebraska is a wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate. It includes the entities of HOME Real Estate, Woods Bros Realty, Nebraska Land Title and Abstract (NLTA), HomeServices Lending, HomeServices of Nebraska Insurance, Home Owners Plus and the Larabee School of Real Estate. For more information about HomeServices of Nebraska, call 402-434-3700. For information on the Larabee School, visit www.LarabeeSchool.com.


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Betty Sims

Betty Sims

Betty Sims joins the Lincolnshire office.  She has been a full time Real Estate Professional with 40 years of experience. Her commitment to her client is to make their family’s move as smooth as possible. Her goal is to provide the highest level of service and to exceed their expectations. She is also fluent in German. Betty can be reached at 402-610-0822 or betty.sims@woodsbros.com


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Kaleb Andersen

Kaleb Andersen

Kaleb Andersen joins the Wilderness Hills office.  He grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He attended University of Nebraska- Lincoln and Wayne State College. His hobbies include sports, piano and traveling. Kaleb can be reached at 402-416-2401 or kaleb.andersen@woodsbros.com


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Julie Starns

Julie Starns

Julie Starns joins the Lincolnshire office. Julie recently moved to Nebraska from Nevada where she worked at Wardley Real Estate. Her hobbies include animal rescue and Yankees baseball. Julie can be reached at 402-521-1234 or julie.starns@woodsbros.com


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The Woods Bros Realty Foundation for Giving committee starts its annual meetings today.  These meetings consist of Woods Bros agents who have requested funds for the local charities with which they’re involved. Requests sometimes involve help for underprivileged children, iPads to help with learning, zoo passes, books, and much more. Friday the committee announces contributions and gives back to the community.

“The Foundation For Giving is an amazing, positive, and strong attribute of the Woods Bros Realty family,” said Managing Broker Arla Meyer. “This is one of the benefits of being an agent with the organization.”

The Foundation for Giving was started in 1987 by Pace Woods Sr, as he wanted to thank the agents who donated their time and money to local causes. Out of every closing each agent contributions to the Foundation, and the company matches the contribution. The idea from Pace Woods Sr.  was  to continue to  give back to the communities Woods Bros serves and with whom agents are affiliated.

“Let’s be honest,” Meyer said.  “Without the community and the people we are nothing. I personally can tell you listening to all the different nonprofit organizations will pull at your heart strings, but I am also so thankful and appreciative these organizations are here to help people in our communities. They are  not just  here to only help and  support people, they help get them back to working and being able to get through the next day.”


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Ghost Stories   October 31st, 2014

Woods cabin on Madeline Island

Woods cabin on Madeline Island

With such a long and storied family history, it is no surprise that a few of the Woods family’s haunts are rumored to actually be haunted. For instance, Nebraska Row is a “street” of vacation homes on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, that are owned and enjoyed by Nebraska residents. The island has been the Woods family’s summer getaway since the early 1900s. Ghost gossip has long been part of the Woods family lore during summers up in Wisconsin.

The stories run from puzzling and eerie, to warm and welcoming. Family member ‘LB’ describes the mystical feeling of the island and of the Woods family cottages as, “safe, loving, and mostly magical.” ‘LB continued to say that she took from the spectral presences, “… a welcome feeling.“ She described a time from earlier in her life when she was alone in one of the Woods family cottages. In the spacious and beautifully decorated room there was a pleasant warmth. The room filled with dancing flashes of light, like sunlight diffused through water playing on every surface of the walls, floor, and ceiling. This visitation from family ghosts gave her a longstanding feeling of family community, like the opposite of loneliness. “It makes me want to be there.”

Col. F.M. Woods

Col. F.M. Woods

The original Woods family patriarch, Colonel F.M. Woods, built a cottage that still stands called the Dew Drop Inn. It has a haunter that some believe to be the ghost of the Colonel’s wife, Eliza. Others think that from time to time Eliza has even crept over to the cottage next door that was built for Helen Woods Haecker.

Of the Colonel himself, his spirit has been seen a number of times in the cottage that was originally owned by his son George. The family claims that the Colonel’s ghost has been seen only once by a blood relative. The incident involved a young woman of the family who was too young to have known the Colonel but knew him from photographs and family stories. She awoke in the night to see him standing at the foot of her bed. She added with a shiver, “He did not look happy.” The Colonel is apparently a stern apparition, and the main targets of his hauntings have been prospective husbands and husbands newly wed into the Woods clan. They have often been paid visits from the Colonel’s spirit as if in ominous warning.

George Woods

George Woods

Of all the Woods Brothers, perhaps George has the most claims to the Madeline Island title “resident poltergeist”. He loves to play tricks. According to ‘GH’, a family member and longtime Madeline Island summer habitué, “Uncle George” (the ghost of George Woods) “favored paying his visits to the younger ladies of the family.” Maybe they are more fun to trick.

Uncle George was married to Aunt Rachel. Of Rachel’s spirit, multiple family members have said, “You know if Rachel is in the room because you can smell her perfume.” Rachel had a signature fragrance of lavender perfume. Even now, the hallways in their former cottage will take on the surprising, distinct, and pleasant bouquet of lavender, and the current residents of the cottage feel her friendly presence.

GH’ went on about his Uncle George, “While he was living, Uncle George was a kindly soul. As a very little boy, I once found myself alone and a bit lost downtown in Lincoln. This was the early-1940s. Uncle George found me. Without hesitation, he pointed me in the right direction, and gave me a quarter—lots of money then—to catch the streetcar back home.” He concluded wistfully of the ghost of his kind uncle, “I myself can confess no visit (from the spirit), but I liked him so well and would be glad to say hello and see how things are going.”

Clark Pace Woods, the wife of Mark Woods, was a rather eccentric woman who is the subject of lots of wonderful stories. Her nickname was Gigi, and, Great Grandmother Gigi is referred to as, “one ghost you don’t want to mess with.”

At a recent summertime cocktail party held at Uncle George’s former island cottage, one family member, ‘SW’ was telling an eccentric Gigi story to a group of guests. Included in the group was ‘SW’s cousin, who was filming the story with his phone. As the story was unfolding, a framed photo of Gigi and Mark’s island cottage fell off the wall. Everyone gasped. All supposed that Gigi was mad or offended by the story. In the film, one can see a tiny glow of light that goes from the photo on the floor into the dining room where the lights began to go on and off. Then the lights began flickering in the downstairs bedroom as well. Startling the guests – well, that is one way to shake up a cocktail party!

Back to George’s ghost and the spookier side. Perhaps, as ‘GH’ said, “younger ladies” were more fun to trick, but George’s ghost has, at least on one occasion, provided a trick so chilling, that it has kept a family member away from the beloved island.

LB’ related the story of her husband. One day he was in a basement room where boat rigging and sails were kept. He decided to rest for a bit and dozed, but was sleeping lightly. On that day there were workmen in the house. He was awakened and assumed that one of the workmen had needed something – had joined him in the sail room. But what ‘LB’s husband saw, no workman or live soul could do: Recognized from hundreds of photographs, it was the ghost of Uncle George. He was in a hat and a fisherman’s vest and he was hovering -missing the lower half his body. Staring over his shoulder, Uncle George floated away from the awakened man, not through an open doorway, but through a solid wooden door.

The specter of paranormal activity is all around us at this time of the year, and it is noteworthy that the Lincoln Ghost Tour (with several stops in the Country Club area) is sold out months in advance. If you are interested in learning more about the spirits in our midst, visit: http://www.ghostsoflincoln.com or http://www.spiritexpeditions.com.


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A White Halloween   October 30th, 2014

pumpkinsnowLate October 1997 brought massive ice- and snowstorms to Lincoln. The trees were still clinging to nearly all their leaves. Branches and limbs were taxed by the great weight of building snow and ice. Trees bent until snapping, alternating with electrical transformers in making the sounds that many recall being as startling as gunfire. Images taken of the city for several days following the storms recall a warzone. Conditions were so unsafe for traveling that Mayor Mike Johanns “cancelled” Halloween.

Bob Moline, President and COO of HomeServices of America, was Woods Bros’ comptroller at the time and still new to the career. He recalled that Halloween was a time for some serious fun around the Woods Bros offices. “We had open houses, and the agents decorated. Everyone was in a costume. People worked on decorative themes, and we even had judges come in, so Halloween was lots of fun and intensely competitive.”

Moline remembered that the conditions outside were, “Horrific.” He continued, “Everyone figured the Halloween open house was off.” In spite of the mayor’s call for foregoing tricks and treats, Moline said, “I got an afternoon call from one of my bosses – I think it was Gib Eley – and he said, ‘Bob, call the radio station and let them know that we’re not cancelling. We’ll have that open house and give people a place to come and trick or treat.’ So, I followed Gib’s order.”

A little later that day the young Moline, new to real estate, looked up to see standing in his office doorway a very unhappy and stern Pace Woods Jr. “Mr. Woods had a red face, and I never saw him so angry,” Moline said. “He looked at me and asked evenly, ‘What are you trying to do, override the mayor?’ I was stunned, and I knew I had to fix it.”

Moline called the radio station to call off the event, and Gene Brake, managing broker of the Pioneers office at the time called the TV station, though he did end up keeping his office open that night. Agents agreed to leave decorations up and return to the office in their costumes a few days later for a postponed open house. “It was after Halloween by a few days, but everyone had a great time,” Moline said.

Gene Brake, now CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska, remembers the mayor later answering that his biggest mistake as a mayor was cancelling Halloween.

“Bob and I were vindicated,” Brake said.


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Lisa Andersen

Lisa Andersen

Lisa Andersen joins the Wilderness Hills office. She grew up in Concord, Nebraska (near Sioux City). She moved to Lincoln in 2005. Her hobbies include music, sports, teaching and raising Vizsla puppies. Lisa can be reached at 402-430-5771 or lisa.andersen@woodsbros.com.


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Luba Stepanyuk

Luba Stepanyuk

Luba Stepanyuk joins the Wilderness Hills office. Luba grew up in Waverly, Nebraska. She moved to Lincoln in 2005. Her hobbies include art, travel and reading. Luba can be reached at 402-202-3255 or luba.stepanyuk@woodsbros.com


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Kara Fehlhafer

Kara Fehlhafer

Kara Fehlhafer joins the Seward office.  She has over 15 years of real estate experience, in Alliance, Nebraska. Her family recently moved to the Utica area. She looks forward to new opportunities in Seward and surrounding communities. Her hobbies include sewing, reading and spending time with family. Kara can be reached at 402-636-0227 or kara.fehlhafer@woodsbros.com.


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Managing Broker Arla Meyer presents Marlene Bandars with the Shining Star Award.

Managing Broker Arla Meyer presents Marlene Bandars with the Shining Star Award.

Marlene Bandars, office staff at the Woods Bros Realty Lincolnshire Square office was named Shining Star for September.

Her nomination read:

“Marlene is the most positive person I know. She is always very helpful and anticipates what might be helpful to us as agents, and very gracious to our clients. I’ve never seen any negative attitude or words from her. We are remodeling our office right now and she has been amazing in her support to us in getting our offices packed up, and very helpful to Arla in orchestrating this huge undertaking. Marlene is an absolute rock star in my book!”

Shining Stars are HomeServices of Nebraska associates, including managers, employees and agents, who help make our company a better place for our customers, clients and for each other. Nominees must exemplify the following:

  1. The person went out of their way to exceed the HomeServices of Nebraska Standards and best practices.
  2. The gesture or service was above and beyond normal job requirements or expectations.
  3. The employee, manager or agent went beyond the call of duty to ensure the needs of a customer, fellow employee or agent.

Anyone is invited to nominate employees, agents or managers who have displayed The Shining Star Spirit. For someone to be recognized, a Shining Star Nomination Form must be submitted by the 15th of every month. *A participant is eligible to win one (1) time per year.

Shining Star Values

Positive Attitude – A positive attitude is focusing on what is useful, beneficial and worthwhile in each and every situation. Your attitude is displayed through your words, actions and facial expressions with your customers and those around you.

Accountable - Accountable is being responsible for your actions and behaviors as they impact customers and those around you.

Responsive – Being responsive is being open to the situation as it occurs and responding in a sensitive manner to meet needs and expectations.

Teamwork – Teamwork is helping each other win and taking pride in each other’s victories. No one person or department alone can provide for the comprehensive needs of our customers. We achieve our goals when working together as a team.

No Excuses – A culture of no excuses acknowledges when mistakes or perceived shortcomings are made and seeks to correct or make right rather than rationalize or justify the problem.

Exemplary - To serve as a model or example of positive action; strive for high performance standards and deliver results. Demonstrate technical competence. Set high standards for self, demonstrating integrity and superior customer service skills.

Responsibility – Responsibility is acting with initiative and understanding that our organization and our customers are depending on us.

Service - Service is everything we do to exceed the needs and expectations of our customers at all times.

Safety – Demonstrate the importance of safety and how it may influence our daily lives.


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Manette Kidney

Manette Kidney

Manette Kidney joins the Wilderness Hills office. She graduated from high school in upstate New York and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1986. She has an associates degree in Legal Assisting. Her hobbies include teaching spinning classes, running marathons and traveling. Manette can be reached at 402-450-8364 or manette.kidney@woodsbros.com.


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Mason-Rekte.Natassia

Natassia Mason-Rekte

Natassia Mason-Rekte joins the Country Club Plaza office. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. She attended Lincoln High school and Southeast Community college. Her hobbies include music, sports, interior design and spending time with her daughter. Natassia can be reached at 402-802-3821 or natassia@woodsbros.com.


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Traditions of Excellence   September 25th, 2014

Some special kind of anticipation begins to sweep across the state each year when the old pigskin is set to appear in Memorial Stadium. For many Husker fans football seasons bring a wonderful mix of eagerness and hope that spans from the still hot days of August to the crisp days of the holiday season.

Just like Woods Bros Realty, Nebraska football began building its rich traditions nearly 125 years ago, and many of those traditions remain. For instance, releasing balloons to celebrate each of the Huskers’ first touchdowns is a tradition begun in the 1940s.

Some newer traditions have evolved. For example, the Tunnel Walk, which is already about 20 years old, gets periodic tweaks. It has served to fire up the team and the crowd with straight game-faces, theatrical smoke, and even a house cat.

Perhaps the proudest Husker tradition of excellence: Nebraska leads the nation in the number of Academic All-Americans in football, (and all NCAA sports).

Success naturally follows solid leadership. Nebraska’s teams have had a great variety of leaders on the field executing plays, and on the sidelines calling them. Bob Devaney, beloved by the fans, was a decisive and creative coach on the sidelines and a colorful character off the field.

Nebraska’s football traditions are richer for the efforts of Tom Osborne. His rock steady demeanor and his dignified approach will always be associated with Husker football, and of course his legacy reaches well beyond sport to make him a distinguished Nebraskan. Among Osborne’s achievements is his incredible record of victories, (255 wins out of 307 games coached). He made Nebraska a consistent winner.

In 1976, the bicentennial year, Nebraska was a preseason favorite to contend for the National championship. Tom Osborne was not yet 40 years old and was already in his third season as head coach. Many people felt that the finest game of the bowl season was that year’s Astro Bluebonnett Bowl in Houston where Osborne’s Nebraska team met Texas Tech on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes you have to shake it up, and Osborne pulled out all the stops to allow the Cornhuskers’ quarterback Vince Ferragamo to lead the team to a big win.

In that same 1976 season, the Woods family made a donation that added the delightful Little Red Fire Truck to the traditions of the state’s great game.

Pace Woods, Jr. with the "Little Red" Fire Engine Woods Bros Realty donated to the University in 1976.

Pace Woods, Jr. with the "Little Red" Fire Engine Woods Bros Realty donated to the University in 1976.


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Jacquie Belk

Jacquie Belk

Jacquie Belk joins the Wilderness Hills office. Jacquie grew up in Elgin, Nebraska and moved to Lincoln in 2010. Her hobbies include golf, reading, camping and spending time with family. Jacquie can be reached at 402-851-0630 or jacquie.belk@woodsbros.com.


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