Progress in a community depends in great part on men and women who step forward to devote their service to the civic good. David Karnes, a former U.S. senator from Nebraska who died Sunday at age 71, made noteworthy civic contributions to Omaha.
He served on the Omaha Airport Authority, and his community service extended across a wide range of local institutions, including the Omaha Children’s Museum, Methodist Hospital, Omaha Home for Boys, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the local chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, now known as Inclusive Communities.
He showed great support for cancer research, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center, after ovarian cancer took the life of his first wife, Liz, a longtime member of the Westside school board.
Karnes had a deep understanding of the federal government and represented Nebraska interests for decades as an attorney with the Kutak Rock law firm. Even as he fought his own battle against cancer this year, he helped local leaders as they made decisions on allocations of federal coronavirus relief funds in Douglas County.
Government leaders, across party lines, praised his energy and public-spiritedness. Omaha and Nebraska made major progress thanks to his notable civic devotion.