Community leader, former businessman had hand in OPS integration

Dale Te Kolste The Hickman, Nebraska, native fought in World War II for Gen. Patton.

Dale Te Kolste retired in 1982 from former energy giant Inter-North, but that didn't end his role as one of Omaha's community leaders.

For years after, he continued to put on a suit each morning to work on civic efforts, including co-founding the nonprofit Omaha Community Foundation in 1982 and serving as a trustee to the University of Nebraska Foundation.

"He always set a high standard in the way he conducted himself, and that showed in his work," said Robert Te Kolste, Dale's son.

Te Kolste died Feb. 13 from pneumonia. He was 95.

Te Kolste's record of community service included a major role in helping Omaha Public Schools implement its integration plan in the 1970s. He helmed a U.S. District Court-ordered citizen committee to help provide an orderly transition to busing — an effort that largely avoided the angry confrontations and violence that marked school integration elsewhere in the country.

"It really gave me faith in the people of Omaha," Te Kolste said in a 1996 World-Herald article.

Born in 1920 on a farm near Hickman, Nebraska, Te Kolste attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While at college, he met his future wife, Patricia, on a blind date. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary together in December.

After World War II began, he was inducted into the Army in 1942 as a lieutenant and served in Europe under Gen. George S. Patton, Robert Te Kolste said. He was a captain at the time of his discharge. He returned home and obtained his law degree from UNL in 1948.

He then joined Northern Natural Gas, which later became Inter-North, and worked his way up to chief financial officer.

Years after Te Kolste left the company, it became Enron and moved its headquarters to Houston, a move some thought would hurt Omaha's economy. Enron collapsed in 2001 amid a financial scandal.

Among his many civic roles, Te Kolste also served as president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Dale and Pat Te Kolste enjoyed spending time at their cabin in Minnesota, a property they've owned since the 1950s.

Besides his wife and son, Te Kolste is survived by two daughters, Sara Pickens and Nancy Velardi. The funeral is at 11:30 a.m. today at the Presbyterian Church of the Cross, 1517 S. 114th St.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1304,

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