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Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday saluted former Gov. Charles Thone as "a man of integrity who provided stable leadership as Nebraska endured a national recession" during his governorship.

"The state honors a true public servant," Ricketts said.

Ricketts ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from sunrise Thursday to sunset Tuesday in honor of Thone.

Former Gov. Kay Orr said Thone "was my boss, my mentor and my friend" and she would not have been governor if it wasn't for him.

"He gave me opportunities in state government and appointed me as state treasurer," she said. "Without that, I never would have been governor of the state."

Orr was Thone's executive assistant before becoming state treasurer.

"The most important thing he taught me was his example," Orr said. "When he was governor, he was not an officeholder or a politician, he was a public servant."

Among other reaction to news of Thone's death was a tribute from Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic governor and U.S. senator who unseated Thone as governor in his bid for a second term.

"He was a very good and decent man," Kerrey said. "I liked, respected and admired him. In his words, he always 'accentuated the positive.'"

Former Gov. Dave Heineman said Thone was "a great ambassador for Nebraska. He loved our state and our people."

Heineman added: "I always appreciated and respected his advice and insight about issues."

Former Gov. Mike Johanns, who later was U.S. senator, said: "I admired Governor Thone not only as a governor, but as a good and decent man.

"He was a friend and supporter and I always admired his love for Nebraska," Johanns said. 

State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who served as an aide to Thone, said: “My career in politics and government would not have been possible without Charley Thone’s support and wise counsel. He was a very smart, down-to-earth Nebraskan who presidential candidates from Goldwater to Reagan sought out for common-sense advice as they campaigned for our nation’s highest office. He will be greatly missed by the many Nebraskans whose lives he touched for the better."

Sen. Deb Fischer hailed Thone as "an exemplary public servant" for Nebraska during his years as governor and congressman.

Sen. Ben Sasse said Thone "led a remarkable life of service, upholding the virtues of civility and integrity."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

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

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