Donald N. Dworak
Donald N. Dworak
Dec. 3, 1934-Sept. 17, 2018
Donald N. Dworak, 83, of Columbus, died Sept. 17, 2018, at Columbus Community Hospital. Dworak had been suffering from multiple health problems over the past several years.
A memorial Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 at St. Isidore Catholic Church, 3921 20th St. in Columbus. Interment will be at the Catholic cemetery in David City for family only, and will take place at a later date as Dworak donated his remains for scientific research.
Donald N. Dworak was born Dec. 3, 1934, in David City to Anthony (Tony) R. Dworak and Matilda M. (Morbach) Dworak. Don graduated from David City Public High School in 1953, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1957. He began his professional career teaching and coaching high school in the south-central Nebraska communities of McCook and Arapahoe. After a few short years in public education, Don made an early career change by joining Travelers Insurance Company, where he worked in Hartford, Connecticut; Chicago, Omaha, and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
On Sept. 28, 1963, Don married Judy Lynne Kosch, a Creighton University graduate who hailed from Don’s hometown of David City. Soon thereafter, the young couple moved from Minnesota to Lincoln, when Don took a position as Group Manager with Banker’s Life Nebraska. In 1966, the couple’s second son Anthony (Tony) John Dworak was born in Lincoln, joining their first son Donald Paul, who was born in 1964 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 1969, Don moved his family of four to Columbus, where he and Judy founded the Nebraskaland Allied Insurance Agency, located just east of downtown’s Frankfort Square. Meanwhile, in the basement of their Columbus home, Don and Judy founded the West Central Employers Association Trust, and the Nebraska Volunteer Firefighters Trust. These businesses were among the first in the growing small-group insurance industry, and this success afforded Don the opportunity to enter into a long and impactful career in Nebraska and national politics.
In 1974, while Judy ran the small-group businesses, Don was elected to the Nebraska Legislature to represent District 22. Winning under the slogan ‘Dworak will listen to you,’ Don served two four-year terms (1974-1982), and was considered one of the most influential legislators of that era. Among his achievements was the Nebraska Habitat Stamp Act, which utilizes a special hunting license fee to fund the purchase and leasing of lands to provide critical cover for game birds and animals, as well as public hunting access throughout the state. In 2014, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission honored former Senator Dworak for his efforts by naming a state wildlife management area near Monroe in his honor.
Dworak represented Nebraska as a Reagan delegate at the 1976 and 1980 GOP national conventions, and was also known for working with people of various political stripes in order to get things done here at home. As a state senator, he was an aggressive watchdog for the humane treatment of inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, and consistently pursued environmental protection initiatives. A lover of history, the Nebraska State Historical Society owes the current location of its Nebraska History Museum in part to Senator Dworak, who co-sponsored legislation to purchase the old Elks Club building on 13th and Centennial Mall in Downtown Lincoln for its public educational and cultural purposes.
In 1983-84, Dworak served the state as Nebraska Governor Bob Kerrey’s director of Economic Development (DED), and later as a member of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission during both the Kerrey and Kay Orr administrations. At DED, Dworak played a key role in bringing several major companies to Nebraska, and helped with the establishment of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA). As a Liquor Control commissioner, Dworak was known for his fair-mindedness, and his commitment to always listen to both sides of the story.
Don and Judy sold the majority of their insurance interests in 1983, effectively marking their retirement from the industry. During retirement, Don and Judy stayed active in farm management (Dworak Agribusiness LLC), world travel, birding, golf, Cornhusker football, and many volunteer activities. In 2017, Don and Judy were named Distinguished Philanthropist of the Year - an award sponsored by the Columbus Area Philanthropy Council in recognition of their life-long example of philanthropy.
Among Don’s many civic activities were the Columbus Chamber of Commerce; the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Commodores; Boy Scouts of America; Columbus Friends of Music; BPOE, FOE, Knights of Columbus (Fourth Degree); Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation 150 Fund member; UNL Alumni Association; Children’s Scholarship Fund Board of Directors of the Catholic Diocese of Omaha; David City High School Alumni Association; Platte County Red Cross (past president), and many others too numerous to fully list here.
He is survived by his wife Judy, his sister Mary (Burke), his son Don, his son Tony and daughter-in-law Tamera (Moore), and his three grandchildren Audrey (19), Joseph (17), and Tommy (15).
Don is preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Sister Jean Dworak.
Throughout his later years, Don often expressed his deep gratitude to God for the wonderful life he had. His family and his many friends can attest to how many others’ lives were made so much better because of him.
‘He finished the race. He kept the Faith.’
Gifts in memory of Donald N. Dworak can be made to the Columbus Community Foundation, or the charity of the donor’s choice.
Condolences may be sent to www.gasshaney.com