Profiles of Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans

Based on the success of E.A. Kral's "900 Famous Nebraskans," The Crete News publisher, John Reeves, initiated the production of profiles of Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans. These profiles, written by E.A. Kral and Jean M. Sanders, began appearing in The Crete News in January 2004. With the permission of the publisher and authors, the Nebraska State Education Association offers these profiles on its website as a public service.

Questions or comments may be referred to Karen Kilgarin or Al Koontz of the NSEA at (800) 742-0047 or email at and

Click here to download the entire document in PDF format (186 pages), which contains the 44 profiles in alphabetical order, or select the individual  below to open directly to their profile within the document.

updated 12/18/2009

  • Henry M. Beachell
    Leading 20th century rice breeder and co-pioneer of Asia's Green Revolution in rice
  • George W. Beadle
    Nobel Prize-winning biologist initiated revolutionary changes in the study of heredity
  • Don Benning
    Pioneer African American university coach and innovative educator
  • Rose Gorelick Blumkin
    Immigrant who founded America's largest volume furniture store ranked among greatest entrepreneurs
  • Glenn W. Burton
    Agronomist thought to have saved millions from starvation
  • Guy Chamberlin
    Farmer, notable athlete, and coach of four pro football championships with three different teams
  • Henry Roe Cloud
    Pioneering Native American educator
  • Mary P. Romero Zielke Cota and Rosabell Zielke Champion Fenstermaker
    World's first mother-child supercentenarians had California and Nebraska roots
  • Carl T. Curtis
    Champion of natural resource conservation, labor and social equity, fiscal reform, and the IRA during 40-year Congressional career
  • Frank W. Cyr
    Father of yellow school bus and authority on rural education
  • Gladys Henry Dick
    Biomedical researcher who co-discovered cause, treatment, and prevention of scarlet fever in the early 20th century ranked among female immortals in science
  • Val Logsdon Fitch
    Basic research in 1964 by Nobel Prize-winning physicist may advance humankind's understanding of the universe
  • Jay W. Forrester
    Electrical engineer laid foundation for modern personal computer
  • Creighton J. Hale
    Helmet and bat inventor who helped mold world's largest youth sports program
  • Joyce C. Hall
    Hallmark founder believed "When you care enough to send the very best"
  • Wynonie Harris
    "Mr. Blues,"an American idol of his day
  • Leta Stetter Hollingworth
    Psychologist challenged male superiority claims and founded the field of gifted education
  • Catherine Hughes
    A pioneer radio entrepreneur
  • Clara Herling Huhn
    Colfax County, Nebraska native ranked among world's longest-lived persons
  • Joseph McVicker Hunt
    Psychologist stimulated America's mid-20th century focus on children's intellectual development and helped influence educational research and Project Head Start
  • Charlotte Buettenback Johnson
    Art teacher who co-designed first Barbie doll and was also its wardrobe director
  • Philip M. Klutznick
    Jewish Leader, Visionary Developer, and Humanitarian Negotiator
  • Ben Kuroki
    First Japanese-American war hero, crusader for racial equality, and newspaper publisher
  • Mabel Lee
    Pioneering physical education innovator, women's advocate, and author
  • Preston H. Love
    Internationally Renowned Band Leader, Musical Manager and Author
  • Frank B. Morrison, Sr.
    Originator of first tourist attraction in the nation to span an Interstate Highway, progressive political leader, and visionary
  • Mary Lois Murphy
    Medical researcher pioneered use of chemotherapy for children and advanced the field of pediatrics
  • Ada Patterson
    Co-pioneer of gender equity in American journalism and human interest feature reporting
  • Edwin E. Perkins
    Inventor and Entrepreneur -- Kool-Aid King
  • Charles H. Purcell
    Chief engineer of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge helped pioneer interstate highway system
  • J. Lee Rankin
    Nation's leading lawyer played key role in school desegregation and other significant historic cases
  • Grant T. Reynard
    Artist of many talents and achievements also taught others to create from true inner desire
  • Ann Ronell
    Woman of Musical Firsts--Who's Afraid of the Little Lady Songwriter?
  • Roland Schaffert
    Physicist credited with developing first practical dry-process photocopy machine
  • Rae Wilson Sleight
    Originator of renowned North Platte Canteen that served over six million military personnel
  • Rueben Snake
    Native American Civil Rights Leader
  • Lillian St. Cyr (Princess Red Wing) and James Young Deer
    First Native American Silent Movie "Power Couple"
  • Alexander J. Stoddard
    America's innovative public school leader in the 20th century and a pioneer of instructional television
  • Charles E. Taylor
    Mechanic built engine for Wright brothers' 1903 flyer
  • Robert Taylor
    Glamorous movie star of Hollywood's golden era, role model of decency, and world patriot
  • Ralph Winfred Tyler
    Curriculum, instruction, and evaluation reformer ranked among world's fifty modern thinkers on education.
  • Orville A. Vogel
    Wheat breeder helped found Green Revolution and invented scientific research equipment used worldwide.
  • George R. Wagner (Gorgeous George)
    First television superstar changed professional wrestling into popular entertainment
  • Irene Worth
    Acclaimed actress had Nebraska Mennonite heritage