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David Karnes, former U.S. Senator for Nebraska, dies at 71

David Karnes, a former U.S. Senator for Nebraska in 1987 and a civic force in Omaha for...
David Karnes, a former U.S. Senator for Nebraska in 1987 and a civic force in Omaha for decades, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 71.(Kutak Rock LLP)
Published: Oct. 25, 2020 at 2:58 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - David Karnes, a former U.S. Senator for Nebraska and a civic force in Omaha for decades, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Karnes was born in Omaha Dec. 12, 1948 and held numerous positions among organizations throughout his career before he was appointed to the Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Edward Zorinsky.

Karnes served two years before running unsuccessfully for reelection in 1988. At the time, he was the youngest U.S. Senator to have served at age 38.

Several officials from the metro area and the state have shared their thoughts of Karnes.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts: “Susanne and I are deeply saddened to learn of Dave’s passing. He was a great Nebraskan, a public servant, and a devoted father and husband. We ask that all Nebraskans keep the Karnes family in their prayers as we remember his legacy and celebrate his life.”

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert: “We have lost a great and dedicated friend. Dave Karnes spent his life in service to our city and country. As a United States Senator, an advocate for cancer research and awareness, a community volunteer, husband and father, Dave worked for all of us. Even as he battled a cancer diagnosis, he was instrumental in helping the City of Omaha secure CARES Act funds to preserve important services for our citizens. Dave served on the Omaha Airport Authority Board of Directors and his wife Kris is a member of the Omaha Planning Board. I will miss Dave’s friendship and counsel. Please keep his Kris and the Karnes family in your prayers.”

Nebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse: “This is heartbreaking news. Dave was a great man who tirelessly served Nebraskans. His work in Washington and here at home helped so many folks across our state. His selflessness and hard work made Nebraska proud. Melissa and I are praying for Dave’s wife and daughters.”

Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle: “Dave and I worked together on some projects. Recently, while he was participating in the Clinical Trial in Boston, we talked about the Federal CARES money for the City of Omaha. We served on a Federal Bank Board together several years ago. He was a good friend.”

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