Pilger, NE ~~ A Pilger bank president will be honored Friday during the Nebraska-Iowa football game. Midwest Bank President Gene Willers will represent Nebraska as a citizen hero during the annual Heroes Game between the two schools. Willers put the lives of his bank family first when a large tornado ripped through the small town of Pilger.
After storm spotters called the bank to alert them of the danger, Gene ushered eight people, including several employees, into the bank vault and locked them inside minutes before the deadly tornado ripped through Pilger. The vault could only be locked from the outside, so Gene sought shelter in a cellar below ground.The EF4 Tornado destroyed the century old Midwest Bank building. Gene emerged safely from below ground and the vault withstood the powerful winds, making Gene Willers a Hero.