Nebraska (KNOP) - Former Nebraska State Senator of District 42, Don Pederson, (90), died Sunday morning.
His wife, June Pederson, said he died at his home of complications from pancreatic cancer which he was diagnosed with May 14th, just 18 days before he died.
Sunday morning, his family released this statement to the media:
"June, David, Steven, Scott and Jeff Pederson are saddened to announce that after 90 amazing years, our husband and father, Donald W. Pederson, died peacefully this morning at his home.
We were blessed to have the finest man any anyone could ask for lead our family. His life of genuine caring and service was an inspiration to us all. We thank all the friends who have reached out to him over the past few weeks to express their thoughts."
Pederson served in the state legislature from 1996 to 2007. He was appointed to the legislature on September 5, 1996 to replace David Bernard-Stevens who had resigned. He was elected in 1996 to represent the 42nd Nebraska legislative district and reelected in 1998 and 2002.
He was on the Nebraska Retirement Systems, Building Maintenance, and Legislative Performance Audit committees, as a nonvoting member of the Executive Board and Reference committees and chairs the Appropriations committee. Since Nebraska voters passed Initiative Measure 415 in 2001 limiting state senators to two terms after 2001, he was unable run for reelection barring a court challenge of the measure.
He was born December 23, 1928, in Hastings, Nebraska. He attended University of Nebraska at Omaha, Grinnell College, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a former member of many North Platte organizations, bar associations, and the Presbyterian Church of North Platte. He is the father of former Nebraska Cornhuskers athletic director Steve Pederson.
His obituary reads as follows:
"Donald W. Pederson, , 12-23-28 –
Former Nebraska State Senator Don Pederson was born in Hastings, NE, December 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 December 28, 1952. Before her death, they were married 49 years and raised their four sons in North Platte, NE.
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 Governor 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, $13M conversion from analog to digital transmission. In 2003, he was presented with NET’s Distinguished Service Award.
On November 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, Lincoln; sons David (Judy), North Platte, NE; Steven (Tami), Rocky River, OH; Scott (Julie) and Jeffery (Jennie), Atlanta, GA; 12 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.
Memorials may be sent 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 # 330, Lincoln, NE 68508.
Services are pending."