A University of Nebraska-Lincoln employee whose university career spanned several decades died Aug. 19 of complications related to COVID-19.
Kevin Hopper, 60, had worked for more than 40 years for UNL and the NU system.
He most recently was a technical consultant with information technology services in the NU system, which includes institutions in Lincoln, Omaha, Kearney and Curtis. He was still based at UNL, where he started work in 1979 processing information as an input-output clerk.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about Kevin’s death during this pandemic,” UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “This brings the devastating impacts of COVID-19 closer to home for all members of the UNL community.”
UNL said Hopper was honored in December and wrote a report about his career in which he described changes he had seen in information technology.
“What a wild ride it has been!” he wrote.
UNL said Hopper became ill this summer and was hospitalized about a month before his death. He is survived by his wife, Jeri Davenport Hopper, and two sons, Angus and Drake, all of Lincoln.
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Longtime prosecutor Gary Lacey helped create a care center for child victims of assault and violence in Lincoln and Lancaster County. Lacey died Jan. 2 at the age of 77. Read more
Rosemary Holeman was an avid traveler, visiting China in 2006. The onetime host of an Omaha children’s TV program died at home Jan. 3. Read more
Mark E. Horwich, 51, was on duty with the Clover-Roane Volunteer Fire Department of West Virginia when he was killed Jan. 11 in a crash en route to a structure fire near the town of Newton. Horwich was alone in a firetruck that went off the road and crashed, said Adam Smith, the assistant fire chief with the department. Horwich was a former captain with the Boys Town Volunteer Fire Department. Read more
Mark Lambrecht and his wife, Kristi, started working from their basement, then from their garage, then, finally, from a building in downtown Omaha, turning Lambrecht Glass Studio Inc. into a company that did projects for St. Vincent de Paul Church, the Cloisters on the Platte and the Holy Family Shrine. Lambrecht died Jan. 14 after a yearlong battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 67. Read more
If a measure of one’s life was taken in days, Jimmy Smith got fewer than average. He died Jan. 15 at age 65. If a measure was taken in wealth, the retired U.S. Postal Service worker who put in 33 years wouldn’t crack the upper tiers of American society.But if that measure were taken in lives changed, then the former youth coach would break the scale. If you needed it, Jimmy gave it to you. Read more
During his 38 years at Benson High School, Alfred “Fred” Pisasale was one of the school’s most popular teachers. Pisasale, a 1946 Central High School graduate who wrestled and played tennis at Omaha University, died Jan. 22 after a brief illness. He was 91. Read more
Omaha real estate developer Millard Roy Seldin was just 12 when he first demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit. He bought a bike paid for with money he earned selling magazines door to door. He then used that bike to do more paper routes and earn more money. Years later, while in college, Seldin used those skills and work ethic to help his father, Ben Seldin, form the homebuilding company Seldin and Seldin. Millard Roy Seldin, a native of Council Bluffs, died on Jan. 24 at age 93 in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Read more
Officer Aaron Hanson, Falco’s handler on the job and his chauffeur in retirement, called The World-Herald on Jan. 28 to say the 14-year-old canine crime fighter was being put to sleep. Falco had developed a brain tumor that was causing him to suffer as he experienced an increasing number of seizures. Read more
Jacob Thiele, right, performs with The Faint at at Sokol Auditorium in 2003. As a member of The Faint, Thiele helped put Omaha’s music on the map. Thiele, who left the band in 2016, was found unresponsive by a friend at an Omaha residence and died Feb. 13, according to an Omaha police report. The report listed the cause of death as unknown. Read more
Frank Bemis, who served as Douglas County assessor for 24 years before retiring to work in the real estate and insurance businesses, died Feb. 14. Read more
Al DiMauro taught in the Omaha Public Schools from the 1960s until 1995, then taught Latin at Marian High until 2013. DiMauro died Feb. 20 at a nursing facility after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Read more
Known as an astute businessman, car dealer Michael F. O’Daniel Sr. also displayed a gentle spirit, quick wit and a love of storytelling, his son Matt O’Daniel said. Michael O’Daniel came to Omaha in 1958 from Evansville, Indiana. His family purchased the Oldsmobile dealership downtown that later moved to 78th and Dodge Streets, where it’s now O’Daniel Honda. He died March 11 from Alzheimer’s disease. Read more
Doug Marr was one of the founders of Omaha’s Circle Theatre, which performed “diner theater” in greasy-spoon cafes and was a forerunner of other local theaters. Marr died March 16. Read more
Leo F. Connolly always tried to be fair, friendly and firm during his 30 years as an Iowa District Court judge. “That’s also the way he raised his kids,” son Joseph Connolly said. “He was always fair, and he was always friendly, but he was always firm, as well. He treated everybody the same, and he was very genuine. That was a great lesson to learn.” Leo Connolly died in his sleep at an assisted living home in Tucson, Arizona, on March 19. Read more
In a full life cut short by cancer, costume designer Travis Halsey stood tall. He found success designing for theater and ballet companies in Omaha, Houston, Chicago and beyond, eventually starting his own business. And a tall, permanent reminder of Halsey adorns the front of CHI Health Center Omaha. He was sculptor Matthew Placzek’s model for the 14-foot statue of a mime on stilts near the doors of the arena. He died of liver cancer April 6. Read more
In business and with family, Frank Rizzuto lived by the simple creed of always seeing the best in other people.“Life is too short,” he liked to tell his wife and four daughters. “Always try to like and appreciate each other.” Rizzuto and his wife of 50 years, Jeri, built several businesses, including ATS Mobile Telephone Inc., Business Realty Corp. and American Answering Service. He died April 12 from kidney disease. Read more
Darrell Dibben, a longtime professor at Dana College in Blair, died April 12 from complications of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at Immanuel Medical Center. “He cared so much more about others. That’s what made him an outstanding parent and an outstanding teacher, said Dibben's eldest son, Dave. Read more
Whether flying a P-38 fighter plane in World War II or working as an Omaha dentist for 52 years, Dr. Donald H. Stormberg filled his 95 years with service to others. He died April 14 of natural causes in his Omaha home with his wife of 70 years by his side. Read more
Longtime Papillion-La Vista choral director David Cecil was described by his wife, Nancy, also a retired music teacher as "easygoing and loving and caring, and he always had a big smile.” David Cecil died May 23 at Hillcrest Country Estates Cottages after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years. Read more
Lobbyist Ron Withem, left, talks with State Sen. DiAnna Schimek at the State Capitol in this March 2005 photo. Withem was the chief architect of Nebraska's school aid system during his 15-year legislative career. After leaving the Legislature, he was a longtime lobbyist for the University of Nebraska system. He died May 28 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years. Read more
Ed McVaney's expertise in technology and business eventually enabled him and his wife, Carole, to help start the Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, one of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s best-known academic programs, with a $32.2 million donation in 1998. He died June 4. Read more
Christmas time for the Omaha family of Jane and Bob Meehan invariably included a visit from the book fairy, as well as St. Nicholas. Mary Jane “Janie” Meehan was a tireless promoter of reading and communication, said daughter Monica Meehan of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The books Janie gave as Christmas gifts would include the recipient’s name, the year and a signature from “The Book Fairy.” She died Aug. 6. Read more
As a kid, James Schwertley was small and scrawny growing up near St. Cecilia Cathedral. He gained confidence and muscle mass when he began lifting weights in 1945, an unusual practice for the time. This photo shows him as a lifeguard at Peony Park in 1950. Schwertley won the second Mr. Omaha contest in 1949 as well as the Mr. Nebraska and Mr. Midwest contests in the light-heavyweight division in weightlifting. He also earned a journalism degree from Creighton University, joined the Air Force, where he became a fitness trainer and won more bodybuilding titles, and eventually entered the seminary and became a priest. He was described as having "the ability to really touch people and help them with a variety of challenges." Schwertley died July 8. Read more
Austin “Bella” Tierney “was a very sweet person and kind of innocent to the world,” said father Les Tierney. “She loved listening to music, going out to eat and movies. Pretty much all the typical things young people do." Bella Tierney died Aug. 27 when was hit by a truck while she was trying to cross Interstate 80. Read more
Don Kalal, of Omaha, started singing and acting in high school with his eventual wife, Jackie, and didn’t completely stop until his death on Oct. 14 at age 92. He performed in musicals such as “Guys and Dolls,” “Man of La Mancha” and “Shenandoah” at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the 1970s and 1980s. Here he is performing in “Guys and Dolls" in the 1984-85 season. He's pictured with Dawn Buller-Kirke. Read more
While David Karnes is probably best known publicly for the two years he served as a U.S. senator from Nebraska, he carved out a much larger legacy in Omaha as a devoted family man deeply involved in the city’s civic, legal and charitable communities. Karnes died Oct. 25 after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 71. Read more