Former Nebraska State Sen. Don Pederson, 90, died June 2, 2019.
Don was born in Hastings, Dec. 23, 1928, to B.K. and Pauline Pederson. He graduated from Omaha Benson High School in 1947. where he served as class president, was an honor student and now is a member of their Hall of Fame. He attended Grinnell College in Iowa and UNO. In 1954, he graduated from Nebraska University College of Law.
He married Virginia Cummings on Dec. 28, 1952. Before her death, they were married 49 years and raised their four sons in North Platte.
His law career started as Deputy County Attorney in Scotts Bluff County. He soon joined the law firm Beatty Clarke Murphy and Morgan in North Platte. He built the law firm Murphy Pederson & Piccolo, eventually being joined by his son David, a 1980 UNL Law School graduate. The tradition continues today as the Pederson Law Office where David has since been joined by his daughter Laura Troshynski and son Matthew Pederson, where Don served “of Counsel.”
His public service career began when he was elected to the North Platte school board, serving for nine years including a term as president. Due to the early structure of the junior college system administration, he simultaneously served as president of the North Platte Junior College, and McCook Junior College.
Following the term on the North Platte School Board, he was chosen as chairman of a committee to reconstruct the aging schools of the district. A subsequent bond issue passed by a significant margin. He helped create the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, serving a term as president.
In October 1996, Pederson was appointed to the Nebraska Legislature by Gov. Ben Nelson to fill a vacancy in the Lincoln County district. He was immediately required to file and run for the remaining two-year vacancy and was successfully elected a month later. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2002, serving 10 years until term-limited in December 2006. During his term in the legislature, he served on the Appropriations Committee and was elected Chair of this budget creating legislative committee. He was directly responsible for passage of the Nebraska College Savings Plan, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Constitutional Amendment 1, 2005, which encouraged historical building preservation using a tax deferred benefit and much more. Throughout his legislative service, Pederson was an advocate for the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications system and was responsible for achieving funding for many upgrades in this important statewide service and notably, the federally mandated $13 million conversion from analog to digital transmission. In 2003, he was presented with NET’s Distinguished Service Award.
On Nov. 14, 2003, he married June Remington in the State Capital. They have been active members of the Lincoln community.
In 2007, Pederson served as chair of the Nebraska Humanities Council (now Humanities Nebraska.) He received many recognitions, including the Patty Steel Award and recognition from the Susan Koman Foundation for his work passing the Nebraska Every Woman Matters Act, working to detect and prevent breast and cervical cancer for low-income women. In 2010, he was presented with the Nebraska Sower Award from Humanities Nebraska for his service to humanities in Nebraska.
He was a member of Rotary for more than 50 years, serving in multiple leadership capacities.
He is survived by his wife, June, of Lincoln; sons David (Judy) of North Platte; Steven (Tami) of Rocky River, Ohio; Scott (Julie) and Jeffrey (Jennie), both of Atlanta, Georgia; 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Memorials are suggested to First Plymouth Church, 2000 D St., Lincoln, NE 68508; NET, 1800 N. 33rd St, Lincoln, NE 68503; Nebraska Cultural Endowment, 1004 Farnam Plaza, Omaha, NE, 68102; or Humanities Nebraska, 215 Centennial Mall S No. 330, Lincoln, NE 68508. Online condolences may be shared at roperandsons.com.
A celebration of his life will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29, at First Plymouth Church. Roper and Sons is in charge of arrangements.