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PLACE OF REST
The family of R. Patrick Ayars will have a memorial reception in honor of the longtime Wichita businessman in Lincoln, Neb., June 6.
Mr. Ayars, a native of Nebraska, died March 12 at age 55. He was co-founder of Oxford Senior Living and was active in the Wichita area business community in a number of other official and unofficial capacities.
The reception in Lincoln will be from 2 to 5 p.m. at Ayars & Ayars, 2436 N. 48th in Lincoln.
According to his daughter Caroline Ayars, the reception is intended to give friends and colleagues a chance to pay their respects and "remember the wonderful life my father led."
Lincoln Journal Star -
R. Patrick Ayars, a Lincoln native and prominent businessman in Wichita, Kan., died Wednesday of complications from cancer.
Better known as Pat, Ayars was president and co-founder of Oxford Senior Living. He would have been 56 on Friday.
Services will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at St. Mark United Methodist Church at 1525 N. Lorraine Ave. in Wichita.
Ayars graduated from Lincoln Northeast High School in 1976 and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1980, with a construction management major. He and his twin brother, Mike, incorporated Ayars and Ayars, the Lincoln construction company, in 1985.
Pat Ayars left the company in 1998 and moved to Wichita, where he eventually went to work for Key Construction.
He remained close to his family in Lincoln, said his younger brother Doug, secretary-treasurer of Ayars and Ayars, though he gave up ownership interest in the company. He and his brother Mike continued to hunt and fish together, Doug said.
After years as the public face of Key Construction, he lost his position as vice president in January 2010 -- a move that the Wichita Eagle newspaper reported sprang from philosophical differences.
He then started Oxford, a senior living operating and development company that has properties in Wichita, Wyoming and Texas. Ayars and Ayars was primary contractor on some Oxford developments, Doug Ayars said.
The Oxford website described Pat Ayars as "an entrepreneurial visionary and accomplished senior executive with expertise in business development, strategic planning, marketing, project management and development." The Wichita Eagle reported he was a beloved and valued member of the Wichita community.
He was "an eternal optimist," said Coryanne Graham, marketing and brand manager at Oxford Senior Living. “Pat had tremendous impact on this community.”
Oxford chief operating officer Jason Wiley said in a statement, “In recent months, Pat had positioned the company to transition his responsibilities so that his vision for Oxford would continue long after he was gone. He ensured this company would never hinge on just one person, but no one could ever fill his shoes fully. Pat was a tremendous motivator and visionary.”
David Harris, president and CEO at RelianzBank, said he and Ayars shared a love of Nebraska football.
“He was a very decisive person,” Harris said. “He knew the path that things should go whether everybody else agreed or not.”
“Pat was a hard charging individual who also was very compassionate,” said Slawson Cos. broker Jerry Jones via email. “He lent a helping hand to untold numbers of people in need. He was a world class marketer who had great influence in the way Wichita has developed over the past 15 years. He will be sorely missed.”
Kevass Harding said he knew that impact personally.
“He helped me walk through the process of building the Ken-Mar property at 13th and Oliver,” said Harding, lead pastor at Dellrose United Methodist Church, which is at 14th and Oliver.
“There was not a grocery store in this neighborhood for over 20 years, and through his support and his encouragement, I called Wal-Mart every Monday for six months, and now we have a grocery store.”
Ayars had a competitive side, too, Harding said. “He was such a competitor that if you outfished him," Hardin said, "he would move the boat.”
Fishing, hunting and the Cornhuskers were all important to Ayars, his friends said.
Harding said he saw Ayars last weekend. “We went from laughing to a straight-serious conversation,” he said.
Ayars asked Harding to do his eulogy.
“I was humbled and said, ‘Yes, sir,’” Harding said. “He said, ‘You make sure it’s full of joy and laughter and good memories.’ So I have my marching orders.”
Ayars was preceded in death by his mother, Alice. He is survived by his wife, Vergia; children, Kate (David) Funk, Caroline Ayars, Remy Ayesh, Mark Ayesh, and grandson Carter Patrick Funk; father, Ray Ayars; brothers, Mike Ayars (Cristy Joy) and Doug (JoAnne) Ayars; and sister, Lori (Bill) Luedtke.
Carrie Renger of the Wichita Eagle contributed to this report.