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.