“Bud” Alfred Arthur Pagel Jr.
Alfred Arthur “Bud” Pagel died peacefully at his home on June 30. He was 93 years old.
He grew up in Neligh, Nebraska, where his parents, Alfred and Ruth Best Pagel, ran the weekly newspaper established by Bud’s maternal grandfather in 1885. Bud began helping as a printer’s devil at age 12, so the journalistic seed took root early. He never lost his pride in or passion for the field.
Bud had an idyllic childhood in an era when small-town kids could run wild. For him and his pals, summer meant hitching their homemade campers (that were extended annually to accommodate the year’s growth) to bikes and heading for the Elkhorn River. Their adventures and misadventures, which he related to the delight of friends and family, ranged from finding a dead hobo in the river to smoking swamp cabbage. Despite the privations of the Great Depression, Bud’s greatest hindrance in those days was his older sister, Shirley; although they grew to be the closest of siblings in adulthood.
Bud served in the U.S. Army during the Korean conflict. He was fortunate to be stationed in Ulm, Germany, an experience that broadened his world view. While in the military, he came to believe that one might lose the company of the folks back home and all material goods, but education was an asset that couldn’t be taken away. The first order of business following his discharge was to enroll in Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
After graduating, Bud returned to Neligh to operate the newspaper with his parents. This was the first of three related careers, each of which made him eager to get up each morning.
He sold the Neligh Leader in 1963 and, after short stints at the Norfolk Daily News, the Lincoln Journal and the Omaha World-Herald, he was hired by the Miami Herald as its medical writer.
In 1969, he married Alabama-born Anne Burnett. The following year, the couple moved to a small farmstead in Ballaghaderreen, Ireland. The months there were filled with beauty, good times and friendships that became lifelong.
They returned to Omaha in 1971, where Bud spent the next decade working for the Omaha World-Herald, first as assistant city editor and, then, as a writer for the Magazine of the Midlands.
Another major career change came in 1982, when Bud joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Beginning reporting and depth reporting were his favorite classes, but his real love was the students who brought worlds of talent, intelligence, character and what Bud called “fire in the gut”– just the materials needed to become consummate journalists. He stayed in touch with many of them and took greater pleasure in their career successes than his own. Each time he learned of one of their achievements, he would light up and claim: “She couldn’t write her name until she came to me.”
Bud was the first to acknowledge that he, too, couldn’t have written his name without the mentoring of his parents, professors and other journalists. He was an enthusiastic learner.
Among the recognitions he received were the University of Nebraska Alumni Association Doc Elliott Award in 2020; induction into the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame, 2017; induction into the Nebraska Press Association Hall of Fame, 2006; the College Legislative Teaching Award (Distinguished Professor), 1996; Recognition Award of Contribution to Students, UNL Parents Association and Teaching Council, yearly from 1990 through 1995; the M. Duncan Sowles Distinguished Service Award, College of Journalism, 1986; National Merit Award for Creative and Innovative Community Journalism Programs, North American Association of Summer Sessions, 1984; Florida Mental Health Association, Distinguished Service, 1968; Dade County, Florida, Medical Association, Distinguished Service to Medicine and Community, 1970, and first place in the American Osteopathic Association Competition, 1968.
While he loved journalism, the deepest part of his heart was saved for his wife, Anne and his son, Sean; daughter-in-law, Marlene, and granddaughters Brianna and Ella of Parkland, Fla. He loved his extended family, his friends and his offbeat wheaten terrier, Ceili.
Upon his induction into the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame, Bud said: “This award prompted me to look back over the years and ponder what my life was about. The answer was amazingly clear – it was about people, all kinds of people . . . people I worked with, people I worked for, people I wrote about, students I tried to teach, readers I tried to woo. Some of those folks were amazing. Some, like me, were a bit flawed. But each of them made my life better, richer.”
Celebration of Bud’s life will be on Sunday, August 15, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sheldon Art Gallery on UNL campus, 12th and R Streets. A graveside service will take place at Neligh, Nebraska.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a memorial contribution might consider the Alfred “Bud” Pagel Scholarship Fund through the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508. Donations can be made online here: https://nufoundation.org/fund/
To leave a condolence please use the form below.
Funeral Home assisting is Aspen Mortuary, 4822 Cleveland Avenue, Lincoln, NE 68504. To view an on-line obituary or email condolences please visit Aspen Mortuary’s website at www.aspenaftercare.com.
Condolences for “Bud” Alfred Arthur Pagel Jr.
I am so sad to hear about Bud’s passing… I was fortunate enough to have him educate me and sharpen my skills. There were none like him (except maybe his sidekick, Dick Streckfuss) and no one will ever match his standards, kindness or sense of humor.
I pray that Anne and his family know just how much they are in thought and prayer at this difficult time.
Bud shall live forever in our hearts! Thank you for sharing him with all of us and the world.
My heart broke on the news of Bud’s passing. I have so many, many wonderful memories of parties at your house before interviews. Bud was my mentor and my friend. I owe my first four jobs in journalism to him, and I will always remember him. I will move heaven and earth to be there in August. (We leave for vacation on the 18th, so I hope it is before that.) You have my very deepest sympathy. His was a life very well lived; he touched so many. A piece of my heart passed with him.
Much love and sympathy to you and Sean!
Suzanne (you might remember my red hair 😊)
Bud was my mentor. He started his professorship in 1982, when I started my journalism classes. So many great memories with this man. Like this one: I was in Pagel’s and Dick Streckfuss’ first beginning reporting class in 82. I showed up hungover in a Hawaiian shirt wearing Wayfarer sunglasses. I sat in the back. Pagel strides up to me and whispers, “Are we going to have any trouble from you, Chief?” I slid the sunglasses into my backpack, sat up straight and said, “No, sir.”
He was a real person. He embodied everything that is good about this world.
My deepest sympathies to Anne and family. Bud was a good friend and I will miss him, his wit and his wonderful sense of humor. I’m glad to have known him and to have shared good times with him.
Dear Anne, Sean, Marlene, Brianna and Ella, Thank you for sharing “Bagel” with us. He broadened our minds and our worlds while sharpening our skills. I know he is lighting Heaven with lots of laughter with his sidekick, Dick Streckfuss. My thoughts and prayers for you all now and in the days ahead.
Bud was a man not of few words and always good for a laugh. Though not my actual uncle, he was by far my favorite uncle. He will be missed.
Dear Anne, Sean and family,
I was very sorry to learn of Bud’s (RIP) death. He was a wonderful man whom I greatly enjoyed every time we met. Regrettably, those times were too few, but I still chuckle every time I think of the story about his “farming” in Roscommon and the “wake” for a rooster — at least I think it was a rooster, but it may have been a hen. Regardless, the value was in Bud’s telling of the story, and he told it with such enthusiasm that he and his audience were teary eyed with laughter by the end of it. He had a great sense of humor, an unparalleled ability to tell a great story, and he always appeared (at least to me) to not take himself too seriously. He was one of the greats. I hope you will find comfort in knowing he lived a great life, and legions of people, many of them former students, have fond memories of him. Please accept my condolences on your great loss.
I was so moved my the obituary. My mother lives in Neigh, that is what prompted me to continue reading. What an impressive life! And moving to Ireland, wow! He lived a full life. R.I.P
Bud Pagel, one of the all time greats in Nebraska Journalism….teacher, newspaperman, mentor, friend and always with a twinkle in his eye and sense of humor. His legacy will live on through the hundreds of people he affected. Thank you Bud.
You wrote a wonderful obituary for Bud. He was fortunate to have a full and happy life with you and Sean and his family,
and he touched a lot of lives, both students and other faculty. I will always feel grateful to have known him. You were lucky to
have been his wife for so many years. Valerie Bender
Anne, Sean, and family
My sympathy for your loss.
Dear Ann and family, my sympathies to all of you on the loss of Bud. We have not seen you for a long time but remember well how much we enjoyed our Foreign Cooking dinners when we got to sit at the table with you and Bud. He had such a wicked sense of humor and was such a great storyteller. Our best to all of you. Mary and Paul Burrow
I am sorry to hear of Buds passing. He lived a rich life filled with so much laughter. He will be greatly missed. You are in our thoughts.
Jonathan and Paige.
Bud taught me a lot about the craft of writing and to enjoy the ride along the way. A tough but fair professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. People be with him and his family.
So sorry to hear of Buds passing, I always enjoyed the conversations we had when working on your house. Also the idea that we were birthday buddies, since we were both born on June 3rd. He was a very special person and will miss him..
I’m sorry to learn about the passing of one of my favorite teachers. His advice helped me land jobs, and his stories and teaching have stayed with me after more than 30 years. Small gestures, like a letter he sent to my parents after graduation, meant the world to them and me. May he rest in God’s peace, along with his friend, Dick Streckfuss, another favorite teacher and journalist.
My heartfelt condolences.
Bud meant everything to my career and my life. I’m just one of many former students whom he taught to write meaningful, true stories for the good of the world. I was such a shy little wallflower (also from northeast Nebraska) when I walked through his open door that first day to be greeted with his big heart. He somehow made me dream big and believe I could grow, in my own small way, as a storyteller. He saw the potential in all of us, individually, and I swear he made everyone from my era at the university great. He showed us all such love — tough love at times — and maybe a reason we all seemed to reach our potential was because we wanted, with each story we told, to make him proud. See him smile.
I see him now, smiling, walking through a vast field of flowers … one for each young life he guided … following a butterfly.
Thank you, Bud! (And thank you, Anne!)
Anne and family, I am saddened to hear of Bud’s passing. He always brought a smile (and sometimes a laugh) to me while I was working a COJMC. He was definitely “one of a kind” and I know he will be missed by many.
Bud’s sense of humor always came through. He was an inspiring professor, and just starting his time on the faculty at UN-L when I started J-school. My condolences to Anne and Sean and all who knew this great man.