KEARNEY, Neb. — What started as a “little pastime” turned into a mowing business that also serves as therapy and exercise for 80-year-old Ginny Kotschwar of Kearney.
“When you’re on the end of a mower you can be singing, you can be praying, you can be counting your blessings that you have every day. It’s just therapy,” she said.
Kotschwar started mowing more than 25 years ago, helping her youngest son, Keith, who owned a lawn-mowing business with 100 customers. At the time, Ginny operated a daycare, while her husband, the late Harold Kotschwar, worked with the Nebraska State Patrol.
When Keith moved away from Kearney, Ginny kept some of his customers.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just do this for a little pastime,’ ” she chuckled.
Kotschwar, who calls herself semiretired, has 15 customers in Kearney and isn’t taking any more. She mows for the exercise, although she eats healthy, too.
“I always tell everybody I eat a lot of spinach, kale and berries. Those keep you going and keep my joints a working,” she said.
Kotschwar stays hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding the hottest times of day. For her 80th birthday last fall, Kotschwar’s children bought her a Fitbit so she could chart her miles.
“The first couple of weeks I had it, it made me tired,” she said, chuckling. “I didn’t know I walked that much.”
Earlier this week, she charted 12.9 miles mowing five lawns. When she isn’t mowing, Kotschwar works part time in housekeeping at Regency Retirement Residence in Kearney. She also cleans a few houses.
Kotschwar has four walk-behind John Deere mowers, a trailer to haul all her equipment, three trimmers and blowers, and a couple of barrels for clippings. She has a riding mower for her backyard, but she says it doesn’t give her the exercise she likes.
“I’m more crippled when I get off that rider than when I walk four or five lawns,” she said.
Kotschwar changes her own oil and sharpens the mowers’ blades, but she relies on her oldest son, Tim, of Kearney, to make other mower repairs.
“Sharp blades are very important to mowing a good lawn. I like straight lines, and I don’t like mowing over sticks and twigs,” she said.
In the fall, Keith comes home and winterizes all of his mother’s equipment. This summer, Kotschwar’s granddaughter, Jennifer Kotschwar, will pitch in and help mow a few days a week.
Mowing helps Kotschwar stay active, and it shows her family the importance of a strong work ethic.
“I’d rather wear out than rust out,” she said.