Deborah Gilg

Deborah Gilg

December 15, 1951 – November 16, 2022

Deborah Gilg, 70, passed away after a short but courageous battle with colon cancer on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, with her loving husband, Dan, by her side.  She was born on December 15, 1951, in Omaha, Nebraska, and lived most of her life in the area.

After graduating from Central High School, Deb attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree and Juris Doctorate.  After graduation, she moved to western Nebraska to start her private law practice, eventually settling in Ogallala. While there, she started her illustrious public service career via election as Keith County Attorney, a position she held for 16 years. During this time, Deb also served as Special Deputy County Attorney and/or Special Prosecutor for 21 counties in Western Nebraska before moving back to Omaha in 2002 to be closer to the family for health reasons.

In 2009, Deb was appointed by President Obama as the United States Attorney for Nebraska, the first woman to hold this position.  During her time as U.S. Attorney, she was appointed as chair or served on numerous Federal Committees for Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. One of particular meaning to Deb was her service as Chair of the Federal Task Force on Violence Against Native American Women. In this role, she was instrumental in securing federal resources dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault cases against Native American women, an achievement of which she was most proud.

Upon her retirement as U.S. Attorney in 2017, Deb turned her focus to community engagement. She founded the organization Fearless, Fierce, and Forward to provide women with empowerment training in the areas of gender pay parity, negotiation skills, surviving domestic violence, and professional development.  Another achievement of great pride to Deb was her position as adjunct faculty at her alma mater, the University of Nebraska College of Law. Later in life, after desiring an escape from Nebraska winters, she spent time serving as adjunct faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Deb volunteered her time for several organizations over the course of her career. She was particularly proud of her leadership as Chair of the Nebraska Jail Standards Board for 24 years, having been appointed by 5 different governors. Other organizations of note include the Nebraska Crime Commission, Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, Nebraska County Attorneys Association, Omaha Roncalli Catholic High School, and Omaha Business Ethics Alliance.

Deb was inducted into the Omaha Central High School Hall of Fame and received the UNL College of Law Outstanding Public Alumna Award. Other awards of great honor to Deb include the Nebraska Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Public Service Award, Nebraska Women’s Bar Association’s Outstanding Contributor to Women in the Law Award, Women’s Center for Advancement’s Tribute to Women Honoree, Nebraska Association of County Officials’ Outstanding County Official Award, Nebraska State Patrol’s Exceptional Public Service Award, and Omaha Bar Association’s Laurie Smith Camp Integrity in Service Award.  She was a lifetime Nebraska Bar Foundation fellow and a member of the Nebraska, Iowa, and Colorado Bar Associations.

Deb was a voracious reader and a talented pianist. She enjoyed numerous cruises and traveling the world with Dan, having visited all seven continents. She organized regular ladies’ trips to Las Vegas and spent time tending to her flowers at home. Deb was incredibly proud of her children and their accomplishments and, later, took great joy in her role as Nana to her six grandchildren.

Deb is survived by her law school classmate and husband of 46 years, Dan; daughter, Colleen Gilg Tararbra (Davide); daughter, Nicole Gilg Gachiani (John); son Greg (Samantha) Gilg; grandchildren: Viviana and Alessio Tararbra; Alex and Sophia Gachiani; Grayson and Peyton Gilg; her sister, Joyce; her brother, Bob (Mary); and lifelong friend and “sister” JoAnn Moore. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and other loved ones, along with her four dogs.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Harry Roach and Jacqueline Kinsel Roach.

A WAKE will be held on Sunday, November 27th, at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 11802 Pacific Street. Family and friends are encouraged to gather from 2:30pm to 4:30pm followed by a prayer service at 4:30pm.  MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL will be held at 10:30am, on Monday, November 28th, at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, with luncheon to follow immediately in the Mainelli Center at the church. Interment at Calvary Cemetery will follow the luncheon.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Deb’s memory to the St. Augustine Indian Mission or OWH Goodfellows.

To view live broadcasts of the Prayer Service and Mass, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.

 

21 Comments

  • Sandra Skorniak Posted November 21, 2022 8:48 am

    Sympathy to her family and friends.

  • Bonnie M Boryca Posted November 21, 2022 8:51 am

    We saw Deb speak earlier this year at a diversity banquet in Omaha. She was inspiring and left an impression on us. Our condolences to Deb’s family and friends.
    Sincerely,
    Bonnie Boryca
    &
    Erickson | Sederstrom PC

  • Gregory Ramirez Posted November 21, 2022 8:55 am

    I did not know Deborah “Deb” personally, but her obituary makes clear what an outstanding lawyer and community leader we have lost. It’s clear that she was dedicated to service to the public, and I have no doubt she touched many lives. My deepest condolences to Deb’s family.

  • Natalie Blanke Posted November 21, 2022 8:57 am

    I only had the pleasure of meeting Deb a few times, but what a treasure to the legal community and world she was. Sincere condolences to her entire family.

  • Bob Lindemeier Posted November 21, 2022 8:59 am

    Dan and family:
    I am sorry to hear of Deb’s passing. She was a outstanding lawyer and a good friend.

  • John Freudenberg Posted November 21, 2022 9:00 am

    I worked with Deb for many years in her various roles. She always worked very hard to be the best that she could be. I and the legal community as a whole will miss Deb a great deal. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

  • David Domina Posted November 21, 2022 9:09 am

    Lists of Deb’s accomplishments blur the most fundamental point: Deb was a good good human being!

  • William J, Erickson Posted November 21, 2022 9:12 am

    I’m really sorry.

  • Darrell J Gubbels Posted November 21, 2022 9:29 am

    Dan, It’s been many years since we all attended UNL Law. I always have and always will cherish the times I spent with you and Deb back then. You scored big time when you married Deb—but so did she. Best wishes and deepest condolences. Darrell

  • John Gerrard Posted November 21, 2022 10:02 am

    I agree with Dave Domina. The list of Deb’s accomplishments are extraordinary .. but Deb, at core, was a funny, warm human being. And she was an excellent lawyer; it was my please to work with Deb as a US District Court Judge. She was top notch in every way. Deb will be sorely missed!

  • STEVE LEFLER Posted November 21, 2022 10:12 am

    dan, marty connealy, bob woltemath, steve mercure and i go to a neb fb game, a cws baseball game, and a uno basketball game once a year. and you and deb come up in r conversations. we always talk fondly of our time in law school together, particularly wondering how an otherwise smart woman like deb picked u as a life-long partner. u mite remember that deb and i went to the same grade school, st pete’s, so i was overshadowed by her both in grade school and law school, then in r careers. we offer u whatever support we can give. peace to u and urs.

  • Monte Schatz Posted November 21, 2022 10:22 am

    Dan and family,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Deb was an excellent attorney. More importantly she was an exceptional person overall. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

  • Bob Wagner Posted November 21, 2022 11:36 am

    I have followed Deb’s career from afar. What an impact she had on the law. it was an exciting time knowing you and Deb during the Paper Chase. My condolences.

  • Marsha Fangmeyer Posted November 21, 2022 12:13 pm

    I first met Deb in Law school.

  • Marsha Fangmeyer Posted November 21, 2022 12:14 pm

    I first met Deb in Law School. She inspired me then — and all through my career — one of my heroes.

  • Traci M. Comstock Posted November 21, 2022 1:41 pm

    Sending condolences to Deb’s family. Sad to hear of her passing.

  • Steve Howard Posted November 21, 2022 1:43 pm

    Sincerest condolences to Dan and family. What a remarkable career and a life well lived.

  • Van Schroeder Posted November 21, 2022 3:21 pm

    Dan and family, I was stunned and saddened to hear about your loss. Beyond that there is nothing I can say to make it any easier. Our class has lost some good ones over time, and count Deb as one of the best.

  • Richard Dudden Posted November 21, 2022 9:26 pm

    Dan & Family: I was sad to hear of Deb’s early passing. It was a pleasure during my legal career in Ogallala to have worked with both you and Deb.

  • Monica Kruger Posted November 22, 2022 3:33 pm

    Dan, Colleen, Nicole & Greg. I am so saddened to lose such a dear friend and colleague. I learned so much from Deb; not only about the law but more importantly about how to be a good friend and a good human being. I will treasure the memories of our years sharing a practice as well as the memories of all the good times we shared outside of law. Deb was so proud of each of you all and all of your many accomplishments. I know that you will continue to make her proud.

  • Rae Ann Schmitz Posted November 23, 2022 5:23 am

    We just lost a very bright light! I hope dozens of women will step forward to carry on Deb’s vision and mission My condolences to her husband, children, grandchildren birth family , friends, associates, and dogs. I’m sorry for your loss. And I hope you are blessed beyond measure by her passing.

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