University of Iowa
University of Iowa Memorial Sites | Flickr / Creative Commons / Phil Roeder

John McCollister Obituary

6/10/1921 - 11/1/2013| Visit Guest Book
John McCollister (US Government Printing Office Photo)
John McCollister (US Government Printing Office Photo)
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Former Rep. John Y. McCollister, who defeated a sitting congressman to win office and later gave Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel his first Washington job, died Friday at age 92.

John S. McCollister said his father died at an Omaha hospice, surrounded by family, after a battle with cancer. McCollister, a Republican, was a three-term congressman in Omaha's 2nd congressional district, serving from 1971 to 1977.

"After 92 years, he's had a good life, and we want to celebrate it," the younger McCollister said. "The great number of people he mentored is remarkable. He had so many close friends, and was very heartfelt in his political beliefs."

The plain-spoken McCollister handed Rep. Glen Cunningham the only electoral defeat of his career when McCollister won the Republican nomination in 1971. Cunningham had served seven terms before McCollister beat him in the general election.

McCollister hired Hagel as an aide while he was in Congress. Hagel, who later became a U.S. senator, credited McCollister with shaping many of his views and practices. During a March 2007 news conference, he called McCollister the finest public servant he had ever known.

"I will always be indebted to him for placing his trust and confidence in me, and for his continued friendship and advice over the years," Hagel said in a statement Friday. "The people of Nebraska have lost a great leader, and John Y. will be greatly missed by everyone whose life he changed."

The congressman served three terms in the House before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate in 1976. Omaha Mayor Ed Zorinsky switched to the Democratic party and beat McCollister in the general election.

McCollister never ran for another elected office, but he continued serving the community by helping organizations such as the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was born in Iowa City, Iowa, graduated from the University of Iowa and joined the Navy to serve in World War II.

"Congressman McCollister was an outstanding Congressman and represented Nebraska with distinction," Gov. Dave Heineman said in a statement. "He was a World War II veteran, a dedicated civil servant, a respected business leader, and he was a good friend. He will be missed and our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said McCollister, an early co-chair of her campaign, provided her with counsel and insight due to his service in Washington and Nebraska.

"Today, Nebraska lost a principled fighter, our state Republican party lost a great leader, and I lost a dear friend," Fischer said.

GRANT SCHULTE, Associated Press JOSH FUNK, Associated Press

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Read Full Obituary for John McCollister

Guest Book Highlights

If you need help finding the right words, view our Suggested Entries

Other obituaries

Published online on November 1, 2013 courtesy of Omaha World-Herald.
McCollister, John Y. Jun 10, 1921 - Nov 1, 2013 Age 92. Preceded in death by parents, John M. and Ruth Y. McCollister; first wife, Nanette S. McCollister; and brothers, Edwin S.... Read Obituary
Published online on November 4, 2013 courtesy of Omaha World-Herald.
McCollister, John Y. Jun 10, 1921 - Nov 1, 2013 Age 92 of Omaha. Preceded in death by his first wife; parents; and 2 brothers. Survived by his wife, Betty Mc-Collister; 3 sons; 9... Read Obituary

Search Memorials


About This Site: University of Iowa Memorials

The University of Iowa Memorial Site includes obituaries and Guest Books from the network of newspaper and funeral home affiliates.