Barton James “Bart” McElligott
April 20, 1934 – May 10, 2023
FAMILY RECEIVES FRIENDS: 5:00pm to 7:00pm on Monday, May 15, 2023 followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7:00pm, all at the West Center Chapel.
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Tuesday, May 16, 2023, 10:00am, St. Gerald Catholic Church,7859 Lakeview St., Ralston, NE. INTERMENT: Calvary Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers memorials are suggested to St. Gerald Catholic Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or Tunnels to Towers.
To view live broadcasts of both Services, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at www.heafeyheafey.com.
Barton James McElligott was born in Omaha on April 20, 1934, the oldest son of Bartholomew and Grayce, and brother of Thomas and Patricia. Bart attended grade school at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and graduated from Central High School in 1952. He spent his summers as a caddy at the Omaha Field Club, where he developed a lifelong passion for golf.
Upon graduation Bart did construction work in the Omaha area, including at the North Omaha power plant and at Offutt Air Force Base. Bart proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1956 until 1958 as a Specialist 4th Class at Camp Hanford in Washington, and then in South Korea.
In the fall of 1958, Bart joined the Omaha Fire Department (OFD), following in the footsteps of his heroes: his grandfather, Patrick McElligott, a former OFD Assistant Chief, as well as his Uncle James (Jay) and Uncle Francis (Buster). A friend introduced him to Elizabeth Gawrych in the spring of 1964, and he immediately told his mother he had met the woman he was going to marry. True to his prediction, the two wed on Aug. 28, 1965, at St. Francis Catholic Church in Ashton, Neb.
Bart and Elizabeth had three children between 1970 and 1974: Patrick, Susan, and Christopher. An avid history buff, Bart studied American History and Fire Science at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1977. He was promoted to OFD Captain in 1970, and then became a Battalion Chief in 1977. A heart attack in 1981 kept Bart from seeking further advancement, and he worked downtown for four years in OFD administration. Then he spent the last nine years of his career at Fire Station 52 at 105th and Pacific.
Bart loved the OFD and often said that he had the best job in the world. Even when off duty, he rushed to the aid of people in need. Over the years, he saved three different choking victims in restaurants, and he assisted neighbors during medical emergencies. He also helped start the Omaha Firefighters’ Union and served a term as vice president (including one year as president). He retired from OFD on Aug. 18, 1994, after 36 years of service, and he said his proudest achievement was that he had never lost a firefighter on duty under his command.
Bart enjoyed nearly 30 years of retirement, spending much of his time at the local library and in his garden. Family was everything to Bart, and he adored his grandchildren: Brenden, Cassandra, Alyssa, Colin, Maggie, and Elyse. Bart and Elizabeth celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2015 and were married for nearly 58 years. They traveled to almost every state in the U.S., but he particularly loved to visit the battlefields and historical sites where American history was made. Bart enjoyed sports and held season tickets to Husker football and Creighton Bluejay basketball. He loved playing golf with his sons, nephews, and his many friends. He frequently met with his “safety committee” — a group of fellow retirees — to eat lunch, drink beer, and reminisce. A member of both St. Gerald, and Immaculate Conception parishes, Bart was a man of deep faith who often expressed his gratitude to God for the many blessings in his life.
Bart’s legacy of public service lives on through his two sons, who serve on the Omaha Police Department; his daughter, who works for the Douglas County Treasurer; his daughters-in-law, Dawn, and Kari, who are grade schoolteachers; and his son-in-law, Ross, an Army veteran who works for the U.S. Post Office. Bart was especially proud to see his oldest grandson, Brenden, join the Kansas City Fire Department in the fall of 2022.