Drought trees

Stan Matzke shows one of the 85 Canaan Fir trees that he lost to drought over the summer of 2012 at his tree farm south of Bennet.

Journal Star file photo

Stan Matzke Jr., former state government administrator, candidate for mayor of Lincoln and Nebraska basketball star, died in Lincoln on Thursday.

A memorial service will be held Monday at First-Plymouth Congregational Church at 11 a.m.

Matzke headed the Department of Economic Development under Gov. Jim Exon in the 1970s and later was named as Exon's director of the Department of Administrative Services.

During his tenure at DED, Matzke and his assistant, John Rosenow, formed the national Arbor Day Foundation and coined the slogan, "Nebraska, the Good Life."

In 1979, he was a candidate for mayor, losing that race to Helen Boosalis.

Earlier, in 1970, he ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state. 

Matzke was the first director of the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture in Curtis and was former assistant to the president at Southeast Community College in Lincoln.

In his later years, following his retirement as executive vice president of the Nebraska Bankers Association, Matzke and his wife, Dorothy, lived on 80 acres near Panama before  moving back to Lincoln.  

They planted more than 7,000 trees and shrubs and he helped organize a nut-processing cooperative in Valparaiso.

Matzke was a guard on the Husker basketball team from 1951-55, serving as co-captain in 1954-55.

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A native of Seward, Matzke was 84.

"Stan sometimes thought of himself modestly as being in the shadow of his father, Stan Matzke Sr., a legendary state senator and conservationist," former state government colleague Jon Oberg said Friday.

But he, in turn, carved out his own rich record of accomplishment in government and civic affairs, Oberg said in a tribute posted online.

Like their father, Matzke's brother, Gerald Matzke of Sidney, also served in the Legislature.

"Stan was a people person," his family wrote in his obituary.

"He was a professional and personal mentor to countless people throughout his life."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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