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Former Principal, NSEA State President dies unexpectedly

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HARTINGTON — The community of Hartington and educators across the state suffered a big loss last week.

Former Hartington High School Principal and Nebraska Education Association President Jesse Wolf died at his home Feb. 11.

Hartington-Newcastle Supt. A.J. Johnson said Jesse, Loxie, were very helpful and welcoming to new teachers.

“When I was a young teacher, Jesse and Loxie really mentored me in many ways,” Johnson said. “He was a great guy and a real champion for public education and the community. He will really be missed.”

Wolf worked for 30 years with Hartington Public Schools. He taught high school science for 29 years, and in his last year served as the high school principal.

He left the school in 2005 after he was elected as NSEA’s 116th president. He held that position until 2011, then came back to Hartington at that time and began working as a volunteer for various community groups. Most recently he worked as the volunteer Director at the Hartington Senior Center.

Prior to being elected to head the NSEA, he twice served as president of one of NSEA’s six regional districts and served six years as a member of the NSEA Board of Directors. He then served a three-year term as NSEA’s vice president.

Current NSEA President Jenni Benson served on the Association Board of Directors for three years while Wolf was president.

“Jesse was an amazing teacher who skillfully led the NSEA with dedication for our students, educators and public education,” she said.

Dr. Craig R. Christiansen was NSEA executive director during Wolfs presidency and knew Wolf for nearly 40 years.

“When we ran against each other in 1992 for NSEA president, I won, but by only four votes,” said Christiansen. “We started that election as friends, and we ended as friends.”

Christiansen said he could always count on Wolf to be rationed, thoughtful and passionate about education.

“He was a class act. Absolutely honest in everything he did, he was also absolutely fearless in standing for what he believed was right,” Christiansen said. “At the end of his long career in teaching, Jesse and I served as a team: he as NSEA president and I as NSEA executive director. In those six years, I came to know just how much he was respected across the state, and nationally at the NEA. Teachers across the state have lost a true friend. I will miss him.”

Christiansen said Wolf’s tenure as NSEA President was very eventful.

Under his leadership, the Association in 2009 completed a $4.6 million renovation of the 47-year old NSEA Headquarters building, retaining the key location across the street from the State Capitol. Prior to renovation, there had been discussion about moving from the site, which has been home to NSEA since 1931.

The remodeling gutted and modernized the NSEA building, replacing all heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing, windows and the roof, and put new walls in a more efficient configuration. Also added was a geo-thermal well field to provide thermal heating and cooling.

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