Dr. Donald James Grandgenett

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Dr. Donald James Grandgenett
April 21, 1932 – April 5, 2020

 Dr. Donald James Grandgenett was born April 21, 1932.  He passed away on April 5, 2020 at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Don was born and raised in Little Sioux, Iowa and exceled in academics and sports.  After serving as a Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, including a combat tour during the Korean War, Don returned to Omaha and studied in the College of Education at the University of Nebraska Omaha.  After earning his Bachelor’s degree, he taught at George Norris Middle School and became a favorite teacher of many students.  He studied for his Master’s Degree at Wichita State University and for his Doctorate at Arizona State University.  He taught as a professor at UNO in the Department of Teacher Education for 33 years, where he won various outstanding teaching awards, took students on international trips, and served as a part-time pitching coach for the baseball team.

As part of his service work at UNO, Don helped many educators and business professionals become more effective communicators through the many listening, non-verbal behavior, and speaking skills clinics he presented in the Midwest.

He married the love of his life, Jeanette Ann (Kavanda) Grandgenett on October 1, 1955.

Don was preceded in death by his father, Nealy Grandgenett; mother,Waneita Grandgenett; sisters, Bettie Volk, Cathy Grosskopf, brother Dwaine Grandgnett; father-in-law, Frank Kavanda, mother-in-law, Anne Kavanda.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Jeanette Grandgenett; son Nealy Grandgenett (Anne) grandchildren Nicholas Grandgenett, Hanna Grandgenett, Emily Grandgenett; daughter Suzanne (Grandgenett) Allen (James), grandchildren Jacob Allen, Stephanie Sabin (Matt) great-grandson Carter, Samantha Allen, Skylar Allen; son Reed Grandgenett (Wendy) grandchildren Megan (Grandgenett) Dolney (Lowell), Ryan Grandgenett (Molly), Drew Grandgenett; son Michael Grandgenett (Roxanne) grandchildren, Randi Grandgenett, Cory Grandgenett, Jared Grandgenett; brothers Dr. Dwight Grandgenett (Rita), Roger Grandgenett (Nancy), Richard Grandgenett (Lynda); sister, Dr. Myrna Grandgenett (Nancy Flaherty); brother-in-law, Scott Grosskopf; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, colleagues, and a multitude of dear friends.

Don’s passion in life was first and foremost spending as much time as he could with his family and being an incredible husband, father, grandfather, sibling, and uncle to all.  He never missed a youth sporting event, graduation, wedding, or event of any kind that his children or grandchildren were involved with.  His other passion was teaching and mentoring thousands of students over his long and distinguished career in education.

One of Dad’s favorite sayings was “Be the brightest flame you can when you are here so that when you leave, the loss of light will be noticeable.”  No one we have ever known had a flame that burned brighter than Don’s.  His words, and more importantly his actions, touched, mentored, inspired, and loved so many in his 87 years on this earth.  While the flame of his earthly existence has been extinguished, we know that his heavenly flame will eternally burn with an intense brightness.

So many people have shared stories about Don with concrete and specific examples of how he helped them. Don’s amazing legacy of demonstrated caring and actions of love show that he truly “walked the walk” and didn’t just “talk the talk.”

Funeral and internment services will be private. However, you can “virtually attend” the services, and share a story about Don with the family, by visiting the Heafey, Hoffmann, Dworak and Cutler funeral home website:   heafeyheafey.com.  A Memorial Mass and Reception will be held at a later date to be determined.

In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested toward a new scholarship for undergraduate teacher education students being established in Don’s name by the family. These memorials may be sent to the University of Nebraska Foundation to benefit the UNO College of Education Scholarship Fund (01108310), 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508, or contributed online at: https://nufoundation.org/fund/01108310/ . With either process, please include a note (if online in the Tribute box) that says: Dr. Donald Grandgenett Scholarship Fund.



  • Debbie Kavanda Posted April 7, 2020 7:31 am

    The girls and I send loving thoughts and prayers to all of you at this time of sadness. The world lost a phenomenal man when Don got his wings. Special thoughts to my dear sister Jean. Stay strong and cherish all the memories you made with Don. Prayers are being sent out to the whole family. Love all of you. Aunt Debbie, Starr, Macey, and Kori.

  • Becky Collins Posted April 7, 2020 12:35 pm

    Earth had lost a great man. I have never felt so welcomed as when I moved to Omaha and became friends with Suzie. Don treated me like another daughter. He will be missed.

  • Bob Blanchard Posted April 7, 2020 3:20 pm

    Don and Jean were the best neighbors anyone could ever have. Don has left planet earth a better place. He will indeed be missed. Peace and love to the family. Bob and Carol Blanchard

  • Theresa & Dick Schmidt Posted April 7, 2020 10:41 pm

    Jim, Susie and family,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Hopefully the cherished memories will help ease the pain.
    Sending love to all of you.
    Theresa & Dick Schmidt

  • Andy Teeple and family Posted April 8, 2020 8:13 am

    (Great) Uncle Don truly was one of the greats! His positive personality would light up the room. I really enjoyed hearing the stories he would love to tell. Unfortunately I didn’t get to know him outside of the occasional family gatherings, but I could still tell from his demeanor and the way that he would explain/tell his stories that he was an amazing teacher not only in the education system but to his family, friends, and neighbors. His actions have affected many people including myself. We are sorry to see the world lose such a great and amazing person, but in this time of grievance we celebrate together the life of this wonderful man. Sending love to everyone he has affected.

  • Mark Masloski Posted April 8, 2020 8:49 am

    Don (and Jean) are both very important to me. They would allow me and my dad (Russ) to mow their yard when I was in middle/high school. Don would always be willing to show me some tips to improve in baseball and was always up for playing catch. He would come down and do free throw shooting contests with me. Don also got me at job at UNO in the A/V department and I remember his saying “do you want to get paid to study?” He was always willing to listen and provide advice if you wanted some. I regret not stopping by over the years to say Hi but I would think about you when I would drive by on Dodge St. One memory I will always keep is watching him work that speed bag in the basement. He was amazing at it. I’m sorry for your loss but please know that his impact lives on. I life you all up in prayer during this difficult time. God bless you all!

  • Dan Sitzman Posted April 8, 2020 9:45 am

    As a graduate student, Dr. Don’s class was not only one of my favorite instructors, but the one that positively impacted the trajectory of my teaching and professional path, pushing me to try things that I did not initially feel were important. My condolences to Neal and the entire family.

  • Bob Herold Posted April 8, 2020 10:19 am

    Dr. Don Grandgenett was my friend….a phrase echoed by thousands of people that knew him. He encouraged , challenged, and compassionately engaged us all..His care and concern for others positively affected all who would allow him into their lives.
    Thank You, Love You, Miss You my friend.

  • Madaline L Williams Posted April 8, 2020 1:42 pm

    I have fond memories of Dr. Grandgenett from when I was the Ed. Tech Librarian at UNO. We met when he was very angry with some changes I had made. When I explained about my plans he became one of my biggest supporters.

  • Beverly Headley Lambries Posted April 8, 2020 2:25 pm

    Not enough space or time to share my memories pi ries with Don. He was a man that could and would put a smile on your face. Deepest condolences to his loving family. God Bless you all at this sorrowful time

  • Craig and Teresa Brenner Posted April 8, 2020 2:57 pm

    It is with deep sorrow and regret that we have lost our friend and neighbor. His kindness and friendship will be in our memory forever. We will be forever grateful for his mentoring of our youngest daughter through her high school and college years.

  • Kathy Bittner Posted April 8, 2020 3:16 pm

    My memories of Dr. Don Grandgenett are funny and endearing. I was a staff member in the Chairs office of the Teacher Education Department at UNO Don would drop by once or twice a week to talk with Dr. John Langan (chair). Don was delightful to chat with when he had to wait to see John. One of my favorite things was when I teased him about being such a positive person. I loved saying to him to “come over to the dark side Don” and watch him laugh and shake his head no. Dr. Don Grandgenett thank you for sharing yourself with me.

  • Kari (Masloski) Pettigrew Posted April 8, 2020 6:01 pm

    Don and Jean have always been very special people. They were wonderful neighbors and great friends. Don was always there to help in any situation – as a neighbor and as a professor. He was always there to help me and my brother while we were in school. He gave great advice that I still go by today. He had a heart of gold. I will never forget his smile and laughter. My heart goes out to all of you! I am so glad we had the chance to get to know Don and have him and his family in our lives. He will be missed dearly.

  • Sherry Holst Posted April 8, 2020 9:10 pm

    Don was such a GREAT person and we were so lucky to have known him – many prayers and thoughts to the Grandgenett family

    Much love,
    Dave Sherry
    Ashley Allison Matt Hannah
    The Holst Gang

  • David and Nancy Peters Posted April 8, 2020 11:05 pm

    We were fortunate to know Dr. Grandgenett both as a professional and as a friend. Dr. Grandgenett was an amazing individual. He was a role model as an educator. His time was in great demand due to his popularity as a lecturer and the breadth of his experience; however, he never hesitated to share a story or provide advice with his friendly heartwarming smile. Dr. Grandgenett was likewise a role model as a husband, father and grandfather. His love for his family along with his pride in their accomplishments were always front and center. Dr. Grandgenett has left an incredible legacy through his teaching and through his wonderful family.

  • Dave Schuler Posted April 9, 2020 8:14 am

    The best way to say IM SORRY is the KNOWING that Don is now in Gods graces. Top notch accommodations in heaven!

  • Robin Breedlove Posted April 9, 2020 9:42 am

    To Jean, Mike, Rox and the entire Grandgenett Family,
    We hold all of your close in our thoughts and prayers and hold on dearly to the great memories of the time spent with your family, especially your dad, at the various Grandgenett celebrations and athletic events. He was an amazing, positive and giving person who is remembered with much love. May you find comfort in all of the wonderful memories shared by family and friends.
    With much love and remembrance,
    Tom, Robin, Aidan and Nolen

  • Debbie Kavanda Posted April 9, 2020 10:03 am

    The girls and I will be watching the live stream of the service and will be thinking of all of you while we remember what a special person Don was. Know we are sending virtual hugs your way.

  • DONNA MASLOSKI Posted April 9, 2020 10:12 am

    We feel so very privileged to have known and had the Grandgenett Family as our neighbors. From the time we moved to the neighborhood, Don was there for us with his outgoing personality that just drew people to him. Russ worked nights when we first moved in and Don brought his dog to show me and said I didn’t have to worry, they were there if I ever needed anything when Russ was gone. When I was looking for a job, Don told me to apply at UNO and talked to me about it. I did apply and was hired for a job that I truly loved. Don did shine a light of happiness and energy everywhere he went. Jean and all the children were such a joy to be around too. Thank you, Don, for making everyone feel so comfortable and accepted and for making the world a place. Donna

  • Russ Masloski Posted April 9, 2020 10:13 am

    Don and I had many great talks, he was someone I always enjoyed being with. He was always great to our children and willing to help them and everyone as much as he could. He was a very special neighbor and he will be missed greatly. Thank you, Don, for all the good times. Russ

  • Chris & Gail Hubbard Posted April 9, 2020 2:06 pm

    To Jean and the entire Grandgenett family,
    Gail and I want to pass along our deepest sympathies in Don’s passing. His life is such a great example of being such a caring and positive person. I am so thankful to Don and Jean for allowing me not only to be Mike’s friend but also to be a part of so many family gatherings. I will always remember sitting in the living room with everyone after a fishing trip and laughing so hard I didn’t think I would recover. Don would start with a story and once he started laughing, it made everyone else laugh. I will miss him greatly but have comfort knowing he lead such a meaningful life.

  • Stan Hale Posted April 9, 2020 2:23 pm

    My condolences to the family of Don Grandgenett.. He always had a smile on his face and always made time to visit with you.. He was an outstanding educator, family man and touched so many lives. He will be greatly missed. God Bless.

    Stan Hale, Vice Principal, Millard South, Retired.

  • Fr. Thomas Bauwens Posted April 9, 2020 3:55 pm

    Reed, Wendy Megan, Ryan, and Drew.
    You have my prayers and sympathy at the loss of your father and grandfather. Just shy of 89 years is blessing, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. I hurt that because of the COVID-19, I can’t be there to support you personally.

    Although I didn’t know Don personally, he produced a wonderful son who has carried on the tradition with his family. God Bless.

  • Greg Emmel Posted April 9, 2020 7:23 pm

    In 1985 Don was my professor for an educational admin course at UNO. My father got sick and passed away that semester. I’ll never forget how kind, considerate and thoughtful he was to help me through such a difficult time. He was truly an excellent teacher, and I will never forget his kindness, smile, and sense of humor. Sympathy to his family..

  • Richard D. Brown Posted April 9, 2020 11:59 pm

    Professor Grandgenett was one of the most important influences on me during my undergraduate and graduate programs. Having started his career as a junior high teacher, he wove those experiences and his vast store of knowledge into interesting and practical classroom applications that have stayed with me for almost 50 years. The emphasis on professional collaboration and overall communication has helped me greatly in both the classroom and as an activity sponsor and speech/debate coach. His “Be the brightest flame you can when you are here so that when you leave, the loss of light will be noticeable” advice has remained with me in both my public and private school classrooms.

    Richard D. Brown, Millard South H.S., retired
    Creighton Preparatory School

  • Andrew Wodder Posted April 14, 2020 9:05 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. May fond remembrances ease your sorrow and fill your hearts with peace and love.

  • Diane Cox Posted May 4, 2020 2:26 pm

    Dr. Grandgenett was one of the last teachers I had when I was getting my Masters in Ed. He was a delight to have as an instructor, and his class was not only interesting, but enjoyable and most helpful. He is a professor I will always remember (and with a smile). Thank you Dr. Grandgenett, for sharing your wisdom. My condolences to all those he loved, and loved him in return.

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