Democrat Ziebarth achieved so much

Venerable Nebraska Democrat Wayne Ziebarth, 98, of Wilcox, died Sept. 27.

Celebration of life services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Axtell with the Rev. Gale Dorn officiating. Burial will be at Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Axtell with military honors by Wilcox American Legion Post 377 in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Funeral Honors Team.

Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday at the Bauer-Torrey & Mach Funeral Home in Wilcox with the family present 6-7:30 p.m.

The following editorial is from the Kearney Hub:

In 2011 when he was age 90, Wayne Ziebarth of Wilcox said that among his many accomplishments, one that brought him much pride is the merger of Nebraska’s technical schools and junior colleges. The legislation that Ziebarth spearheaded as a state senator in 1971 created the state’s six community college districts and provided those campuses with the organizational system and clout to effectively support our state’s economic development.
 
A credible measure of the wisdom of that legislation is that it’s guided our community college system for 48 years. Today, Nebraska’s businesses and industries are enlisting community colleges as partners to supply graduates with the knowledge to fill demanding positions in our state’s expanding economy.
 
It’s appropriate this week that we recall Ziebarth’s contributions to higher education because of the benefits the changes delivered and because it’s an example of a Democrat working with Republicans for the greater good.
Ziebarth, a respected progressive leader and community builder, died last week at age 98. We urge Nebraskans of all political stripes to examine Ziebarth as a model of service to his local community of Wilcox, and the state and nation he loved.
 
He laid the foundation of leadership through his faith and education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Midland Lutheran College in Fremont and master’s degree at Columbia University in New York City.
 
It was 1942 and the height of World War II when Ziebarth enlisted as a U.S. Marine. His service took him to key battlegrounds in Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. He was in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb and later commanded the 2nd Marine Division of Shimabara.
 
In June 1946, he returned to civilian life, and in 1947 he married Renee England before being recalled to military duty in 1950 in the Korean Conflict.
 
As a civilian he farmed and taught at Minden and Wilcox, where he engaged in a variety of volunteer activities. In 1968 he was elected to the Nebraska Legislature, and in 1974 he campaigned as a Democrat against Republican Virginia Smith, who won by 767 votes.
 
Ziebarth never slowed down. He chaired the Nebraska Bicentennial Commission, was president of the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce, and served on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Energy Council.
 
Fortunately for Nebraskans, Ziebarth didn’t know how to say “no.” Organizations wisely sought his counsel.
 
As he is laid to rest this week, let’s remember him as a savvy lawmaker and volunteer and learn from his example to say “yes” when opportunities for community service arise.
 
Especially in the political realm, we need candidates and leaders who challenge the status quo and work energetically with others, regardless of their affiliation, to build a better world.

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