Those who worked with Pat Haverty used words such as "kind," "genuine" and "exceptional" to describe the man.
Haverty, who spearheaded economic development efforts in Lincoln as vice president of the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, died Thursday of complications that arose from open-heart surgery. He was 58.
Haverty joined LPED in 2011 and took over the top job there in 2013. Under his leadership, the partnership attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments to Lincoln, as well as helping numerous local companies expand, said Wendy Birdsall, president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
Haverty also was instrumental in a number of initiatives aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and developing the local workforce.
Birdsall said he was a key player in the partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to create and fund the NMotion Accelerator program for startups and also oversaw the creation of two grant programs for early stage businesses.
In addition, she said Haverty was a champion for workforce development, and his work was instrumental in Lincoln winning $300,000 in grants earlier this year for its New Americans Task Force.
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"Not only was his vision for the Lincoln workforce exceptional, but so was his leadership style. Pat was a wonderful boss and led with confidence and compassion. He trusted his team with his vision and helped navigate the challenges and successes gracefully," Birdsall said in a statement. "His leadership at LPED and within many different communities will be recognized for years to come and missed dearly."
A former colleague, Kate Ellingson, said Haverty was a "wonderful man (who) genuinely cared for his co-workers."
Ellingson worked with Haverty at the chamber for a few years before moving to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development in 2014.
She said she still worked with him quite a bit through her job as director of marketing and public relations at the Economic Development department, and people there "loved him too."
"He was just an incredible guy and will be greatly missed by the entire business community," Ellingson said.
Haverty took a nontraditional route to the business world. He got a degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and worked as a Buffalo County Sheriff's deputy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He later served as head of what was then called the River Country Economic Development Corp. in Nebraska City, where he spent more than four years before becoming Nebraska City's city administrator from 2009-2011.
"He had a fascinating back story as a college football player, a deputy sheriff and a city administrator before coming to work for the Partnership for Economic Development," said Kyle Fischer, executive vice president of the Realtors Association of Lincoln.
Fischer, who spent seven years working at the Lincoln chamber while Haverty was at LPED, said he had a "knack for knowing how to sell the idea of Lincoln, Nebraska, to businesses looking to expand," and will leave behind a "giant shadow" in the economic development community.
Haverty, who was born in California, moved to Nebraska City as a boy and graduated from Nebraska City High School. He earned a master's degree at Peru State College, where he also served as an adjunct instructor.
He is survived by his wife, Deanna; three children; six grandchildren; his parents; and three siblings.
A celebration of life is planned Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler Mortuary in Omaha.
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