Daniel J. Gillespie

Daniel J. Gillespie

October 30, 1954 – February 13, 2022

Born in Norfolk, Nebraska.  Graduated from Battle Creek High School; attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Preceded in death by parents, Leo L. Gillespie and Martha A. (Kubes) Gillespie; brother-in-law, Dr. David Evert.  Survived by daughters: Brooke Wiese (Andy), Amber Wakerley (Luke), Cassidy Gillespie, Chloe Gillespie, Cora Gillespie; grandchildren: Bennett, Zavannah and Hollis Wiese, Everleigh and Noah Wakerley; brothers and sisters: David Gillespie, Rebecca Evert, Jerry Gillespie (Rebecca), Kristine Sudduth (Allen), Jan Bode (Steve), Tim Gillespie (Jennifer).

VISITATION: Saturday, February 19th at 10am, followed by MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL at 11am, all at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 1248 S 10th Street, Omaha, NE. Luncheon following the service at Heafey Hoffmann Dworak Cutler Mortuary, 7805 W. Center Road.

MEMORIAL SERVICE: Sunday, February 20th at 4pm at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 109 N. 3rd Street, Battle Creek, Nebraska, with VISITATION at 3:00 pm.  Interment: St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery. Dinner following at St. Patrick Catholic Church Hall.  Hasemann Funeral Home, Wayne, Nebraska

In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund, www.nebcommfound.org/give/dan-gillespie-soil-health-fund.  Checks can be mailed directly to the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund, Nebraska Community Foundation, PO Box 83107, Lincoln, NE 68501-3107.

To view a live broadcast of the Mass, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.


Dan Gillespie was born October 30, 1954, in Norfolk, Nebraska, to Leo and Martha (Kubes) Gillespie.  Dan, a third-generation farmer, the family creed was “always leave the land in better shape than when you started farming it.”  For Dan, it’s a simple philosophy: It all starts with the soil. According to Dan, “Healthy soil supports healthy plants and healthy foods.”  Dan was employed by the National Resources Conservation Services, retiring in December 2020 after 30 years of service.  As the State NRCS No-Till Specialist, Dan helped develop a cost share No-Till Incentive Program recognized at the 2005 National No-Till Conference with an Innovator Award.  Throughout his career and because of his own farming experience, Dan’s passion for soil health was evident.  As a farmer and as the importance of no-till increased, Dan was an active participant in multi-state meetings, sharing his experience with his conservation practices, giving presentations and leading rainfall simulator education sessions for field day events and conferences.  In 1995, Dan invented and patented the TracPacker, a pivot track filling machine which reduces unnecessary soil disturbance, increases soil biology, and minimizes soil loss.  TracPackers are now used across irrigated lands in the US and in some overseas countries.

Dan is a member of the inaugural class of the Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) Hall of Fame.  He will be inducted in the Student/Alumnus category.  While Dan was a great student for BCPS, his greatest contributions came after his time as a student.  He was instrumental in promoting the bond for a new high school building.  On top of all that, Dan “The Tree Man” touched the lives of hundreds of Battle Creek students while educating them about trees and other plant life.  For over 30 years, he took seeds, (some harvested from oak trees on his farm), potting soil and grow boxes into fourth through sixth grade classrooms.  Students loved the hands-on planting exercise, the break from schoolwork, as well as the accompanying conservation talk about trees, healthy soil, and natural resources.  His annual visits resulted in 3,000 trees being planted over the years.  Dan’s legacy will always be remembered through the BCPS Hall of Fame. 

With less time sitting on a tractor tilling soil, it allowed Dan more free time with family.  Quality of life became a big incentive for him to never go back to tillage.  To be a supportive presence as the father of five daughters (and the grandfather of five) was always a priority.  Tragically, shortly after retirement Dan was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a terminal neurodegenerative disease.

With Dan’s long career and dedication to soil health practices, his family and former colleagues want to recognize his legacy.  A Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund has been established in partnership with the Nebraska Community Foundation to continue supporting future soil health efforts. Please visit the website below for more information: www.nebcommfound.org/give/dan-gillespie-soil-health-fundChecks can be mailed directly to the Dan Gillespie Soil Health Fund, Nebraska Community Foundation, PO Box 83107, Lincoln, NE 68501-3107.  Not only had Dan written numerous newspaper and magazine soil health articles, he had been featured in many publications. Dan had been the recipient of several awards during his lifetime commitment to soil health.


  • Al and Cindy Masur Posted February 15, 2022 10:10 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this very sad time. Our deepest sympathies…..🙏🙏🙏

  • Ann, David Hernandez Posted February 15, 2022 8:32 pm

    Our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with all of you during this hard time..

  • Sandy Goetzinger-Comer Posted February 16, 2022 2:34 am

    Dan was an amazing person!! He will be so missed but his legacy will live on in all of the people he has touched over the years and through the fund that has been created to share his love for and efforts to protect the land. Prayers for his family and friends during this difficult time.

  • George and Peg O’Dea Lippert Posted February 16, 2022 10:57 am

    Oh, Jan, so quickly. Not even a week of including the girls in my daily prayers for you and Dan. Eternal rest to him and peace to you and all his beloved family. You have my heart with deepest sympathy.

  • Donna (Bauer) Michalski Posted February 16, 2022 1:12 pm

    Dan always had a smile on his face and was so nice and kind. He also made everyone around him smile. My thoughts and prayers are with all his family. 🙏

  • Bridget Alcala Posted February 16, 2022 6:36 pm

    I remember his smile and deep love for the people around him. He was always fun to be around.

  • Richard and Christine Essink Posted February 17, 2022 10:24 am

    Jan and Steve, we are so sorry to hear that Dan has died. You and all of your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Our hearts are heavy with sadness for all of you!

  • Mark and Pam Wiebelhaus Posted February 17, 2022 10:54 am

    I first met Dan at a Gillespie family reunion in the early 60’s. I immediately enjoyed his company. Through the years, I would meet Dan at Gillespie family reunions and at family weddings. He always had time for you and would engage you one on one in a way that made you feel valued. I remember very well a conversation we had one time about no till when he was first starting out with it formally. His passion for it was inspiring. To see what he made of his passion during his career is a legacy which will live on for generations. As years went by, I lost contact with Dan as I did not attend Gillespie family reunions. A few years ago, I was excited at the prospect of connecting with Dan at a memorial service for Sister Rose Gillespie. Sadly, at the last minute he could not attend, I did not know then it would be the last opportunity.

    Dan was always special to my brother Paul and my mother, Margaret (Gillespie) Wiebelhaus. A life well lived that did honor to God. Rest in peace.

  • Bob and Linda(Schaecher)Ternus Posted February 17, 2022 12:11 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. I’m so happy to know you all.

  • mary s roberg Posted February 17, 2022 2:03 pm

    I was saddened to read of Dan’s death. I taught Dan in rural school. He was kind and appreciative of what anyone did for him. The Gillespie family were a super good family. I am happy to read of all of Dan’s success in his lifetime. My sympathy and prayers to his family.

  • Anita and Adrian Ortiz Posted February 17, 2022 8:51 pm

    We are so sorry for the loss of Dan and at the same time so grateful to have known him and called him family and friend while he was with us. He was an inspiration in all aspects and the world will be poorer without him in it. Much love and many prayers to you in this sad time.

  • Jan Jorgensen Posted February 18, 2022 7:43 pm

    NRCS was lucky to have Dan as part of our team. He really accomplished something during his career that is having a lasting effect. My thoughts and prayers to all of you.

  • Terrence Gillespie Posted February 18, 2022 9:30 pm

    Dan was fun to be with and had a great sense of humor. He was a hard worker and was serious about serious matters. He treasured people and was a treasure himself. He loved the Lord, his family and his country. He can serve as a role model for all of us.

  • Rose Gresham Posted February 18, 2022 9:40 pm

    To my Gillespie cousins – my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Now that Dan has earned his Angel Wings – we can all find comfort knowing he’s reunited Leo & Martha – planting trees, again!! Rest in paradise Dan, you will be missed by so many of us.

  • Perry and Thelma Lewis Posted February 19, 2022 7:45 am

    Danny, it is with sad hearts we learned of your passing. So many fond memories… You were one of the good guys! Condolences to the whole family. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

    Perry & Thelma Lewis and family

  • Margo J Wiebelhaus Posted February 19, 2022 10:10 am

    Dan was always a favorite of mine. Many good memories of him growing up. How good he was to his parents and to his family. Will miss him very much.

  • Kristen Henn Richardson Posted February 19, 2022 12:01 pm

    I have so many fond memories of Dan, Gillespie family. The service was beautiful. I am so sorry for the sadness of his loss and please know that I am with you in spirit today.

  • Cheryl (Spence) Foote and family Posted February 20, 2022 9:16 am

    Please accept our sincerest condolences on Danny’s passing. He was a bright light and positive influence in the world, and brought joy to those around him. Heaven gained one of the good ones.

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