State Senator and former Omaha City Council member Rich Pahls dies

Photo: Nebraska Legislature

(Omaha, NE) -- Current Nebraska State Senator and former Omaha City Council member Rich Pahls has died.

78 year old Pahls died Wednesday morning. He spent 32 years as a teacher and administrator in the Millard School District. Pahls was first elected to the Nebraska Unicameral in 2004; re-elected in 2008 and returned in 2020 to serve District 31. He also served on the Omaha City Council representing District 5 from 2013 until January of 2021. Pahls was born in Jewel, Kansas in 1943, was a 1962 graduate of Downs High School and obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Fort Hayes University, before getting his Doctorate at the University of Nebraska in 1979.

State and city leaders from both sides of the aisle have been paying tribute to Pahls in the wake of his death.

President Pete Festersen released the following statement on behalf of the Omaha City Council:

“Councilmembers were informed today about the passing of State Senator and former City Councilmember Rich Pahls after a brief illness. Councilmembers extend their sympathies, condolences and prayers to his family and the community he served for their profound loss. Rich was a dedicated public servant his whole life both as an educator and an elected official. He enjoyed stirring the pot, but was always a voice of reason and had a great sense of humor as well. We will miss his leadership.”
“Rich was a colleague during my time in the Nebraska Legislature and a good friend. He was an enthusiastic advocate for his district and our state. There were many times when I counted on his help as we worked together on important challenges facing Nebraskans. Rich recognized and supported solutions that connect the citizens of Nebraska like investments in infrastructure and good educational opportunities for our children. He will be missed. My prayers are with his family.” - Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
“Senator Pahls was a dedicated public servant and a great man. He was committed to improving his community, first as an educator and then through elected service. Nebraska lost a true leader today. Susanne and I are praying for the Pahls family, the Millard community, and the countless Nebraskans Sen. Pahls impacted as they mourn his loss.” - Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts

Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson, Chair of the Douglas County Board:

"On behalf of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, we are saddened to hear about the passing of Senator Rich Pahls. Senator Pahls was a friend to Douglas County during his tenure in the Nebraska Legislature and as an Omaha City Councilman.  Rich was a good man, a fair man and a great representative. He will be sorely missed. The Board wishes to extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and our community."
"Rich Pahls’ career in public service has touched thousands of families in Omaha. As a high school teacher, college professor, elementary school principal and administrator, state senator and Omaha city council member, Rich prioritized learning, communication, advocacy, and open-mindedness. He did his homework, and often asked unpopular questions before making decisions and voting. I first worked with Rich when he was a Millard Public Schools principal and I was a Millard Board of Education member. Later, He was my city council representative when he represented District 5. The people of the district could count on Rich to listen and act on their behalf. I offer my sympathy to his family and friends, and thank him for many, many years of friendship." - Mayor Jean Stothert.

Governor Ricketts' office says flags will be flown at half-staff beginning Wednesday and will remain lowered through the end of the day on Thursday.

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