Even as his terminal disease was heading toward its predictable end, an Omaha-born doctor living on the other side of the globe was not dying. Dr. Michael Metz continued to … live.
He bought a new red convertible to replace his old red convertible. He redid his kitchen in his adopted city of Adelaide, on the southern coast of Australia. He rode his beloved bicycles. As the cancer spread from his lungs to his bones and brain, forcing the 63-year-old into early retirement, Metz still took medical calls, which astonished his sister, Stephanie O’Keefe.
O’Keefe visited her brother in the weeks before he died and helped plan one of his two funerals. The first was held in Adelaide in October. The second funeral will be held in Omaha on Friday.
“He just accepted it so beautifully. He didn’t rail against it,” O’Keefe said, of Metz’s then-pending death. “When I said goodbye to him, he said, ‘Well. We’ll see where this goes.’ He wasn’t morose.”
Metz died of complications from lung cancer at St. Andrew’s Hospital in Adelaide on Oct. 2. The clinical biochemist and chemical pathologist left behind three adult children, patients he had befriended and a bevy of colleagues and friends who in emails collected by O’Keefe described Metz as gentle, kind and warm-hearted.
“One of life’s true gentlemen,” wrote Peter Sharp, a senior laboratory scientist at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, where Metz worked.
“Always cheerful,” wrote Yee Khong, professor of perinatal histopathology there.
“Such a lovely man, always with a smile,” wrote Liz Thompson, who works in clinical genetics.
Dr. Bill Hague, a professor of obstetric medicine, was both a colleague and close friend of Metz’s and traveled to Omaha for his funeral. Hague, born in Hong Kong and English by descent, said the pair shared the experience of being ex-pats along with loves of music, good food, good drink and a desire to help.
Hague said Metz had established himself in Adelaide as an adviser to other physicians on biochemical problems that arose in expectant mothers and infants and children. One of Metz’s specialties was high cholesterol, which made Metz a leading consultant around Australia and internationally. Metz also had a particular interest in his patients.
“He cared for people in an extraordinary way,” Hague said. “And he was just a lovely man to work with. Very humble. Not pushy. But my goodness, he knew stuff, and he was just great to talk to and great to gnaw over clinical problems with.”
Hague was with Metz when he died and echoed the observation that Metz did enjoy his life even at the end.
“He loved life. He was full of life. He was grateful to God for his life,” Hague said. “He just lived life to the full.”
Metz’s Omaha funeral marks a homecoming of sorts for a globetrotting man whose curiosity about the world and desire to serve others took him to poor communities in the United States and beyond.
He was the youngest of seven Metz children raised in Omaha and the first of them to die. There is an 18-year gap between Michael and his oldest sibling, Gwen Neff of Colorado. There is a five-year gap between Michael and the sibling next closest to him in age, O’Keefe. His other siblings are: Mary Rae Gibbons, Anthony Metz and Kathy Trenolone, all of Omaha, and Dr. Philip Metz of Colorado.
Despite age gaps that made Michael sometimes complain that he felt like an only child, and the geographic distance later on, he held his family dear and requested an interment in Omaha. His second funeral will be held at the church of his childhood, St. Margaret Mary, 6116 Dodge St.
Following the 10 a.m. Mass Friday, Metz will be buried in a family plot at Calvary Cemetery near his late parents, Roman and Gwanetha.
“One thing I have been struck with is how strong his sense of home and Omaha and roots here are, how important they were to him,” said O’Keefe, who took three trips to Australia in the past year, the third to attend her brother’s first funeral in Adelaide.
Michael Patrick Metz grew up in a home brother Anthony now owns near 55th and Dodge Streets. He attended St. Margaret Mary Catholic School. He attended Creighton Prep, Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and finished high school and college early. He graduated from medical school at the University of Nebraska in 1978 and specialized first in pediatrics.
His sisters Gwen and Stephanie remembered Metz as being smart, funny and a touch rebellious. He loved to read and even considered being a literature or history professor but, urged by his parents, studied medicine. His medical training took him to New Orleans, Louisiana’s Cajun country and Cincinnati, where he met his former wife, Jackie, who was from Australia.
Metz served on mission-style trips to Alaska, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and St. Lucia. The couple wound up back in Australia and raised their daughters Libby and Evangeline and son Jamie there. He always said his greatest accomplishments were his children.
Daughter Libby said her father was her biggest advocate and supporter and she watched how his love “allowed people around him to blossom and become the best version of themselves.”
O’Keefe said it was hard having her brother that far away from the rest of the clan. She said her brother was a devoted son and sibling who got back home as much as he could, especially as their mother aged. Gwanetha Metz died in 2014 at age 101.
Her brother got much less time to live. But O’Keefe said she is consoled to think of how Michael Metz spent the time he had.
He was fun to be around. He had a smile that was “quick, ready.” He drew simple pleasure from what was around him: work, friends, the beach. He even, she said, flew kites.
Notable Omaha-area deaths of 2018
A look back at some of those from the Omaha area who died in 2018.
She volunteered and supported organizations including the Omaha Community Playhouse and the Salvation Army.
Schrieber, 73, joined the World-Herald in 1970 and remained an employee until his death on Dec. 18 from oral cancer. A funeral service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the West Center Chapel, 7805 West Center Road.
In his final months, despite numerous radiation and chemotherapy treatments, coach Dennis Mailliard couldn’t stay away from the athletic field.
“He was the kind of guy every community wants,” said Jamie Bates, wrestling coach at Wilber-Clatonia High School. “He had a great sense of humor, he loved life. He was a down-to-earth kind of guy, but his best trait was that he really cared about the kids in our community.”
Peterson died Monday at the Nebraska Medical Center after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
Foy was a casting director for hundreds of television shows that became ingrained in the social consciousness in America, among them “The Donna Reed Show,” which starred the Denison native by the same name.
Alan "Butch" Eells loved fast cars, great golf courses and good times.
Trevor Canaday was “caring, kind and gentle, yet tough when he needed to be,” his mom said.
An act of kindness by one man allowed Helen Fish Manheimer to live and eventually teach countless Omaha children Hebrew at Beth El and Beth Israel Synagogues.
Music in Omaha will miss Penington, who died Nov. 21 at the age of 73.
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Rock, Robert Kutak and William Campbell were friends for years before they decided to open their own firm in January 1965.
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Former Major League Baseball player Bill Fischer of Council Bluffs has died at the age of 88.
Tyler Butterfield, 20, a junior majoring in accounting at UNL, died Friday in a two-vehicle crash in Lincoln.
John C. “Jack” Osborne was killed Sunday night in a two-vehicle crash west of Hastings. He was 78.
Michel Laurent was always going somewhere and doing something, friends say.
Joe Hallett won't be able to take his hot rods with him, but his family made sure their father's love of cars was a big part of his funeral.
The Rev. Thomas McShane, a Jesuit priest and longtime Creighton professor, died Wednesday at age 89 at the Jesuit retirement community of St. Camillus in Milwaukee.
Sgt. Melvin Anderson's journey back to his home state of Nebraska ended only this week, with his military burial Friday at Omaha National Cemetery.
Walter Barsell helped haul ammunition, and he spent several days helping to remove the bodies of the dead. He remained in Pearl Harbor for two more years, an electrician’s mate first class, installing sonobuoys and magnetic cable.
Daughter channels her father’s sense of humor and writes his obituary the way he would have.
Bellevue firefighter Steve Blum was a helper. And toward the end of his life, his Fire Department family rallied around him. Blum died Monday after battling a rare cancer for two years. He was 46.
Kisicki, 88, died early Sunday at Hillcrest Health and Rehab in Bellevue. His children said he suffered from mesothelioma, a lung cancer.
As co-founder and chairman of Media of Nebraska, Howe coordinated efforts for a First Amendment legal battle in a case known as Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart.
The crash occurred about 12:50 p.m. Friday on U.S. Highway 275. Williams’ vehicle collided with a car hauler headed in the other direction, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.
John Patrick Nicholson, of Bellevue, died Sunday in his home, surrounded by family and friends, after a long battle with brain cancer.
John Harding, who died in Seattle at age 97, helped Buffett's investment partners in the transition to Berkshire.
Sage, who died Thursday, believed in helping patients no matter their financial means.
Family, colleagues and former students remembered longtime Millard teacher Terry Eicher as a gifted educator who influenced hundreds of young people during his nearly 40-year career.
Omaha’s Little Italy lost a community institution, a baker, a war hero and a bowling legend when Claudio Orsi died Tuesday at age 95. Orsi's family has operated Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria since 1919.
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At the U.S. Naval Academy, John McCain and his Omaha buddy Chuck Larson were academic opposites — but they became lifelong friends and now will lie side by side.
Hinton spent 34 years at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and served as the dean of two colleges during that time.
Lottie D Jones recently died and left a big hole in the hearts of her family. The best memories they have of her are her sayings, which they affectionately called “Lottie-isms.”
He raised three college athletes, practiced medicine for half a century and played college basketball with Tom Osborne.
Goodrich's commitment to KOIL, where he began working while still in high school, launched his lifelong work ethic. He went on to establish a career as a designer, builder and maintenance engineer for radio transmitters and other equipment.
A graphic artist in The World-Herald's advertising department for 34 years, easygoing Royce Reit continued his artwork for pleasure in retirement.
Chris Ludi, who wed his wife at an Omaha rehab hospital, died after a four-month battle with cancer. The Wahoo native was 28.
For more than two decades, Diane Kissinger fostered dozens of disabled children, often given to her by the state because authorities knew she would take in the children nobody else would.
Joe Piccolo, who dedicated his life to bettering the lives of others, died July 29 at the age of 83.
The 71-year-old University of Missouri graduate died Friday of lung cancer.
Mitchell, 53, died Friday. The cause of death has not been determined, a sister said Monday.
Local high school athletes lost more than a trainer Monday, they lost a friend.
A former two-star general in the South Korean Army, Sun-Ha Lim once advised Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
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It says much about John "Jack" Goebel that when university leaders wanted to nudge a reluctant, aging Bob Devaney toward retirement as athletic director, they dispatched Goebel to negotiate with him.
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Col. John Watters flew more than 25 death-defying missions over Europe as a B-17 bombardier and navigator during World War II. Through luck and pluck, he lived to tell about it.
Ray served five terms as governor of Iowa, from 1969 to the start of 1983.
Mary Shirley Landen co-founded Security National Bank, supported more than 30 Omaha civic groups and raised five children to understand their duty to the communities where they live.
David Jacobson served as a serious community leader. And he led the growing Kutak Rock law firm with dignity. But he also won people over with warmth, humor and a sparkle in his eye.
Kronberg, 85, the wife of former Ralston mayor Wendell Kronberg, died June 15.
Scott O’Hanlon held down the critical 7 p.m.-to-midnight shift on KQKQ — Sweet 98 radio.
Chris Wiley, a North High guidance counselor and one of a few African-American male counselors in the area, died Monday, a day after celebrating his 65th birthday.
Latif, 41, died in Omaha last month of colon cancer.
Omahans Jennifer and Adam Penick, known for their involvement in the lives of their five children, died Monday in a head-on collision.
Gladys Styles Johnston, a former chancellor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney died Wednesday. She was 79.
Chris Jessen, the 36-year-old Omahan who drove his daughters to day care each morning blasting Pharrell Williams’ hit song, “Happy,” died Tuesday after a four-year battle with liver disease and cancer.
When Ruth Schiller died May 5 at age 82, Robert Schiller couldn’t go on.
North Omaha cattleman and entrepreneur Herbert C. Rhodes lived a singular life of self-determination, from defeating racial segregation at the Peony Park swimming pool in 1963 and running the half-mile for Omaha University to leading the City of Omaha Human Relations Board and using skills from a long corporate career to create private success.
For all the pages he covered with red ink, Jim Patten left an even greater mark on the countless young lives of those who sat in his classroom. The former University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism professor died Tuesday, two and a half weeks after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 88.
Mona Faith was a woman worthy of her last name. When faced with great tragedy as a young mother, she clung to faith and used it to transform pain into a quiet generosity that has left its mark across Omaha.
A.B. “Buddy” Hogan Sr. spent his life working for social justice, whether serving the City of Omaha as director of human relations or as presi…
The woman was struck around 1:10 a.m. near North 27th and Burt Streets, authorities said.
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies found the 44-year-old Phipps dead inside his house in western Douglas County. He had been dead for some time.
Jasmine Harris was killed after being shot in the back, family members say, in what police suspect was a gang-related shooting. Harris was not in a gang, her family said Sunday. She was a beloved sister, daughter and aunt.
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Noah Benford's parents wish that there was some message they could give other parents about meningitis. But when you’ve done all you can? Maybe it just comes down to holding your children close.
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Frank Shudak saw his duties in work, family and church through to the end.
Morrison, who died Thursday, served longer than any other Creighton president — about 19 years — and, Creighton says, he signed almost 45 percent of the degrees given up to the time of his retirement.
Megan Cameron represented everything that is good about Nebraska. As a kid, she was an honors student in school, a leader in FFA, active in 4-H and athletic. As an adult, she was a hardworking mother committed to her family and community.
Hunter Sadle, who spent most of his life in Nebraska, drowned on May 13 in the Watauga River in Tennessee.
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Harold Shuman’s death sent shock waves through the hot rod and street rod circles, and some looked stunned still at his gravesite as they described him as friendly, upbeat and committed to their shared passion of old cars and the old car community.
Austin Mort delighted in his 2-year-old son, Gabriel, “the highlight of his life,” according to Mort’s aunt.
On Friday, Allan Wilsey died at age 60. Janice Wilsey said her husband’s death is a lesson for those still living that colonoscopies matter.
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Tony Warner knew just how to honor his son. He posted a a 13-second video of Robbie dancing during a recent Omaha Beef football game. Since it was posted on April 30, the tweet has been shared more than 101,000 times.
On Friday, Bill Henry got the kind of send-off Friday that he made possible for other Nebraska veterans before him.
Ruth Raymond Thone, whose late husband, Charley Thone, was governor from 1979 to 1983, died Thursday after a brief illness. She was 86. Her husband died in March at age 94. They had been married for almost 65 years.
Dickinson survived battles on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. Fighting in Korea was equally vicious, he had said.
Jerry Jacoby recently was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and he died April 4 at the Josie Harper Hospice House. He was 80.
Goebel, a native of Sutherland, Nebraska, spent half a century as a professional chef and hotel manager.
A tireless volunteer on boards across the city, Barbara Ford devoted countless hours to the “star in her crown,” the Omaha Community Playhouse.
The Omaha native died Tuesday in hospice care at the Josie Harper Residence from congestive heart failure and complications from a previous bout with cancer. He was 89.
Jacqueline "Jackie" Pospisil enjoyed decorating her home for all the holidays but preparing for Halloween was a real treat for the former kindergarten teacher, a son said Tuesday.
The joint celebration is appropriate because the Corbaleys were “destined to be together for a lifetime,” their children said. The two started dating while attending Benson High School.
Richard Hauser, diagnosed with cancer on Feb. 1, died Tuesday at 80 at the Ignatius North residence on the Creighton campus.
Omaha restaurateur Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, who fed thousands delicious soul food meals and gained notoriety on national television after starting Big Mama’s Kitchen in 2007, died Friday evening. She was 76.
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“As a father to our two boys, he provided them with the values that will serve them well throughout their lives," Judge's wife, Kerry Judge, said.
Joe Srb never hesitated when he noticed something was needed in his neighborhood, such as caring for the flowers and trees on the median near his southwest Omaha home.
“She was a lovely lady who people enjoyed being around,” said Pat Barker, counseling secretary at Ralston High. “She got along with everybody.”
The wildly popular community reunion known as Native Omahans Day would not have happened were it not for the bologna sandwiches served at a reunion of Omahans in California in the early 1970s.
Wright, 72, served 24 years on the state's highest court.
A 17-year-old girl who died Monday from injuries she suffered in a two-vehicle crash on Sunday will be greatly missed, officials at her high school said.
Vojmir “Bud” Benak Sr. died Friday at his home. He was 75.
Mike Streich, 40, died Monday after being shot about 3:20 a.m. in his home at 5932 N. 33rd Ave. Another man, Adam Nathan, 36, who was at the house, was severely wounded, police said.
Former Ralston City Council member Fred P. “Bud” Abboud died March 3, a week before his 91st birthday.
Nicholas Ware, 30, died Tuesday of colon cancer at home in Omaha, seven months after being diagnosed. The cancer had spread to his liver and lungs.
Charles Thone — governor, congressman, Republican Party stalwart and "one of Nebraska's most productive citizens" — died Wednesday.
Joe McCartney taught journalism for 15 years at UNO, joined Union Pacific Railroad as head of public relations and later formed McCartney Group, followed by retirement in 1999.
A retired Air Force major has died after being struck by an SUV on Thursday while walking near 90th Street and West Dodge Road.
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The founder of PULSE, a nonprofit that assisted families like hers that had lost loved ones to homicide, has died at 73.
Cordle died on Monday. True to character, he performed nearly to the end, sitting in with other bands over the weekend. He also had several of his own band's concerts scheduled.
Bill Danenhauer can’t remember exactly which UNO football player the NFL scouts were coming to see, but their eyes always led them back to No. 42. Danny Fulton. A receiver routinely known as “The Steam Machine.”
Former Douglas County Judge Robert Vondrasek pioneered reforms in sentencing, developed a reputation for being a tough judge, and performed marriages across the state.
Don Leahy led Omaha Creighton Prep to eight state football championships before his stints as athletic director at both UNO and Creighton.
“To be a good Catholic and bring all her loved ones into the faith was her life’s work,” said a daughter, Susan Szalewski of La Vista. “Her faith shaped everything she did, whether it was being a compassionate nurse or the wife and mother who put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.”
“He was what I think you would call a firefighter’s firefighter,” brother Joe Mixan said. “He was always the best cook at the station.”
Smith served as interim chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the early 1980s, when he defended workplace sexual harassment protections against forceful political attack. He later became the dean of Howard University’s law school and authored a seminal book on the history of black lawyers in America.
Paul Keyes, who worked as a U.S. marshal in Nebraska since 2014, has died after a long battle with cancer.
Engelkamp served on the Bellevue City Council from 1982 to 1990 and thereafter became one of the city’s most active volunteers.
Prince, a member of the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame, died Wednesday at 92, his son said, from "complications of old age." He will be remembered at a 10 a.m. Wednesday service at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Alan Stoler approached the biggest battle of his life — pancreatic cancer — with the same doggedness he demonstrated throughout his career.
Darrald B. Harsh, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals, died Saturday at 101. He will be remembered at a 1:30 p.m. Friday funeral at Christ the King Catholic Church.
She hosted the show on KMTV from 1956 to 1994, and was followed as host by her daughter-in-law until 2011 — a total run of 55 years.
Former students of Notre Dame Sister Barbara Ficenec have described her as an “angel” or “saint.” Ficenec died Jan. 23 after being diagnosed with cancer last spring. She was 89.
The Rev. Ralph Lammers was assigned to a number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Omaha during a 35-year career.
“She’s been an amazing advocate for children,” said Benjamin Gray, a review specialist with the Nebraska Foster Care Review Office. “Rosemary helped me to always maintain a perspective of aspiration — to continue to question whether what we were being told was the best the system could do.”
Remmert died on Jan. 14 in Los Angeles of complications from cystic fibrosis, a disease he’d been battling for almost two decades.
Viers died Jan. 8 at the age of 57 after battling cancer. Funeral services were Saturday.
Omahan Julian Flores worked “all the time” at his job hanging drywall to provide for his seven children, his daughter said.
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Ronny Lee Jenkins, who lived in Meysenburg’s home at Boys Town for three years, said Meysenburg “was like the father I never had.”
LeFlore, 27, was fatally shot outside the Reign Lounge in the Florence neighborhood about 1:45 a.m. Saturday.
Terence “Bud” Crawford has always loved to fight. In his youth, however, he didn’t always like going to the gym. Midge Minor made sure Crawfor…
Patterson and friends Jim Rosenquist, Bob Hasebroock and L.A. Bukacek founded a Big Brothers chapter in Omaha in 1959 using $1,000 in seed mon…
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Weber served as UNO’s chancellor from 1977 to 1997, a period of maturation and growth for the campus.