Pet People: State Farm Agent Gary Kudym

By on March 31, 2014

After agreeing to become one of our Pet People, Gary Kudym called me on the phone and suggested we meet somewhere for coffee and chat it up about his love for animals. Knowing where his office was, I said the Crane Coffee down the street would be fine. It was a date. Not knowing that he did anything but love his dog and sell insurance, I was amazed at what I learned of the man. Typically, I don’t start with editorial notes like this, but it helps to tell the story, so bear with me…

He’s fit, tallish and younger-looking than he probably is. He doesn’t look like your stereotypical insurance agent and certainly doesn’t talk with that glowing smile you see salesmen display at every opportunity. I also didn’t expect him to be the kind of guy who listens to Tool, A Perfect Circle, Linkin Park, Alice in Chains or any other of those melodic rock sound makers, but he does. I discovered much about Kudym in our meeting, but was especially pleased to have chosen to meet in the coffee shop we did. On the western wall of the cafe, a giant, black and beaded conglomeration of canvas, acrylic and broken glass hung above a card with his name on it. It was his work and it was for sale. It was at that point I realized we wouldn’t just be talking pooches and renter’s insurance today. This is precisely what I love about meeting our Pet People and I hope that’s why many of you turn out to read about them.

As a sponsor and pet partner, we’ve come to know Kudym as more than just the smiling face on the billboard or concerned salesman who can insure anything precious to you. He’s a helping hand, a civil servant, an artist, a pet lover. Heck- we’ll even go so far as to say that Kudym puts on a superhero’s cape once he leaves the office because he’s been helping two-and-four-legged friends his entire life.

Kudym is a lifer here in Omaha. After graduating from Central High, he attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he attained a B.A. in Marketing. Like all of us, a new set of skills and a degree can inspire one to see where the grass in greener, but Kudym stayed put. After a divorce four years ago, he says, the thought of leaving was entertained once again, but he’s still here. “I just love Omaha too much.”

As an insurance agent, he’s made a name for himself working for State Farm over the last 25 years. His very own branch office sits on the north side of Cass Street, just east of 84th and Dodge. Now that you know where to find him, stop by if you need insurance. We’re here to tell you about the other Gary Kudym- the aforementioned “Super Gary” who cares for the community, for animals, for democracy (he was once a finalist for an Omaha City Council position) and for the arts.

After having been in the business for so long and having his own office, Kudym enjoys the freedoms that come with being self-employed. Though he likes golfing and traveling the country to see some of his favorite bands in concert, what’s notable and noble is the amount of time he dedicates to serving the community and being a dad. Being his own boss, Kudym says he loved being able to be involved with his children’s athletic endeavors and other social functions when they were younger. He’s got one son, a masters student at his dad’s alma mater, and a daughter who attends the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. His girlfriend Kim is a very large part of his life, too. The couple shares a great affinity for animals and Kim has joined in the pet hero efforts as you’ll soon read.toshi

Though he spends a great deal of time with Kim, family and friends, likely his most frequent companion has four legs. Buddy, Kudym’s adopted pup, has two homes- one of which is his papa’s State Farm office in the center of town. Kudym and Buddy are together throughout the day, then Buddy goes home at night with the office’s manager, Penny. “We share Buddy,” he says. The once-stray dog Kudym took home from the Nebraska Humane Society is a good friend to both he and Penny. “We have joint custody,” he jokes.

His love for animals isn’t a newly-found idea. Growing up in midtown Omaha, his family raised Labrador Retrievers. The dogs were pheasant hunters and stayed outside for the most part, but were members of the family, too. Toshi (pictured in the portrait on the right) was a cat he had before he had to surrender it because of a move. He and Kim love the outdoors and enjoy walking around Wersphann Lake where wildlife is abundant and pleasing to his eye. His iPhone is full of images and he happily shows a recent image detailing a deer sighting. Kudym also had two dogs with his former wife. Buddy came into the picture after the divorce. “An unexpected negative from the divorce was that she got the dogs,” he says. As Buddy helped fill the pet void, Kudym still struggled a bit with insomnia soon after his life-changing event four years ago. He couldn’t sleep and needed something to ease his mind in the nightime hours. That something turned out to be another interesting and unexpected part of Kudym’s life.

Between large canvases, glass, beads and paint, he creates wonderfully crafted and beautifully abstract pieces of art. It’s a hobby, but he also sells the work. “I don’t make a living doing it, but I enjoy it and sales pay for the expenses,” he says. If he’s not displaying his work in the coffee shop, he’s doing it in Lincoln at the Noyes Art Gallery. Noyes (pronounced “No-Yes”) is a co-op art gallery, featuring approximately 24 artist members that show their work and volunteer their time to help operate the business. The gallery features a variety of original painting, photos, pottery, jewelry and more, says its Web site. The gallery has a new show each month and a reception on the first Friday evening of every month from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00. Click the Noyes link above to read more about the studio which houses Gary’s art. That is; the art that isn’t in the coffee shop or claimed by Kim. “She gets first pick,” Kudym revealed.


He’s also been featured in the Raw Omaha art show for emerging artists. The event held annually at Sokol in Omaha includes work like his, fashion design, runway models and other art forms. Eric Stokes is the creative manager for The Reader and sponsored another show featuring Kudym’s work. Family, art, insurance. We’ve all got these things, or things like them, but now onto why we came here in the first place- the pet heroics.

Kudym came to the mind of our founder as a potential Pet Person because the two are friends, but Kudym’s love for animals has been demonstrated and divulged in a story that we must retell. For the record, he’s swept in and saved animals like this on three occasions, but we’ll tell just the most recent rescue story here…

On Thanksgiving Day last November, he and Kim were driving home. Around 156th and Q Streets in southwest Omaha, Kudym saw what he thought to be a cat run across the road. Hard to nab and more often found outside and alone, he assumed the cat would be fine. As it turns out, the cat wasn’t a cat; the cat was a dog. Knowing that a dog running around town on a cold and windy day by himself/herself was not as common, and because he’s greatly concerned for the well-being of any animal in need, he stops his car after it followed the dog into a nearby neighborhood. As he opened his door and called for the pup, it came right to him. Now safe and sound, job number one was finished. Now, to get doggie back home.

Escaping traffic and ultimately gaining its safety, the dog was temporarily named “Blessing” by Kudym and Kim. In order to find out the dog’s real name and permanent owners, he called the Nebraska Humane Society. The shelter was closed, but he left information detailing the occurrence for the following day. The dog went home with him and Kim and slept in a warm bed.

The following day, after the Humane Society has heard from someone who had described Kudym’s find as their lost pet, Gary got a call. “The person on the other end of the phone was inaudible. It sounded like I was talking to a very old person or something,” he says. “They were frantic and struggling to talk.” The words entering Kudym’s ears were strange sounding for a few moments, but he finally deciphered one complete thought: “Ruffles! You found my Ruffles!” Blessing was actually Ruffles and the frantic voice on the phone was his actual owner. After saving the pup, keeping it safe overnight, calling the Nebraska Humane Society and talking to the dog’s owner, Kudym returned Ruffles to his relieved owner.

Click the images below to see Ruffles, Kim and Ruffles, then Ruffles and family

“The reunion was especially happy because I guess he (the dog’s owner) had just lost a parent to cancer,” Kudym says. We’ve all been dealt heavy blows, but to have a parent leave, followed by another oft-considered member of the family disappear right after? That would have been tragic. Luckily, Super Gary was there to save the day.

Along with saving animals from certain doom, Kudym serves the community in a number of different ways throughout the year. He volunteers for the Siena Francis House. He participates in a bunch of promotional community service events. He rings bells for the Salvation Army around the holidays and he donates to the food bank about three times per year through a family service group. Oh, by the way.

Kudym is the latest Pet People feature to have his story told, in short, as an attempt to bring you hope and happiness. There are many others like you out there, animal lovers. He’s a loyal pet owner, an always open hand when needed and all-around great guy. If he can create the art that he does, care for his family and friends the way he does and help animals the way he does, we’re fairly certain that he can sell you some darn fine insurance.

If you are interested in his services at State Farm, click this link. To find him on Facebook, click here. He can also be buzzed via phone at (402) 390-1166. If you don’t need insurance, at least tip your cap as you travel by his office. We’re grateful that he’s told us his story and allowed us to share it with readers. We’re also very pleased to have him as a pet partner, but most appreciatively, we’re glad he’s here in Omaha as a part of our community.




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