State Treasurer Don Stenberg calls the late Charley Thone a gentleman; a down-to-earth, common sense Nebraskan.
Thone, the former governor and congressman, has died at the age of 94.
Stenberg worked for Thone in the governor’s office in the late ’70s.
“He was a very perceptive, very smart individual which I think is part of the reason why presidential candidates from Goldwater to Reagan sought his advice on their campaigns,” Stenberg tells Nebraska Radio Network during an interview in his Capitol office. “I enjoyed working for him very, very much. He was a wonderful boss and gave me a lot of opportunities.”
Thone put a young Stenberg in charge of legislative relations after Thone won election as governor in 1978. Stenberg says Thone was laid back, had good judgment, and was willing to listen.
Stenberg was disappointed when Thone lost his re-election bid to young, up-and-coming Democrat Bob Kerrey. Stenberg points out the race was close throughout the 1982 election year. He blames the loss on the recession which severely impacted agriculture.
Stenberg says Thone will be missed.
“I really do. I think Charley Thone was just one of those people who could relate to people from all walks of life. He was a real gentleman,” Stenberg says. “I know I’ll miss him and I think many Nebraskans who knew him personally will miss him a great deal.”
Stenberg counted Thone as one of his trusted advisors when he decided to run for public office.
Thone, raised on a farm near Hartington, represented the 1st Congressional District of Nebraska from 1971 to 1979. Thone served on the House Agriculture Committee. Thone, a Republican, also served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations, investigating the death of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. He left Congress to run for governor.
After public service, Thone returned to practicing law.
Thone died of natural causes Wednesday afternoon.
Thone is survived by his wife, Ruth, and three daughters.