State Senator Rich Pahls Dies

April 27, 2022, 3 p.m. ·

Senator Rich Pahls (Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature)
Senator Rich Pahls (Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

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Nebraska state Senator Rich Pahls, who represented his west Omaha district for 10 years in the Nebraska Legislature, has died.

Pahls, who was 78, had a career in education. He got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fort Hays University in Kansas, and a doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska. He worked as a high school teacher, a college professor, an elementary school principal, and as an administrator for the Millard Public School District.

Pahls was first elected to the Legislature in 2004, and served eight years before being forced out by term limits. He then served on the Omaha City Council for eight years before winning reelection to the Legislature in 2020.

A registered Republican in the officially nonpartisan Legislature, Pahls was known for his soft-spoken sense of humor. His priority bill this year, passed while he was out due to illness, increased sales tax revenues that could be used by convention centers and arenas.

Reacting to his death, Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat, praised him as a thoughtful, intelligent, and dedicated public servant. And Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, called him a dedicated public servant and a great man. Pahls’ office said he died of complications from cancer.

Deputy Secretary of State for elections Wayne Bena says Ricketts will now appoint a replacement to serve until the Legislature reconvenes in January. The person who will fill the remaining two years of Pahls term will be elected in November from among all candidates who petition their way onto the ballot by collecting 2,000 signatures.