By TJ Accola
Called a “personable” man with a “good sense of humor,” Neil Morgensen, director of facilities management and planning, died Wednesday morning of a heart attack.
Morgensen, 56, had worked at UNO for more nearly 25 years. A 1969 graduate of UNO, Morgensen was described as “athletic” by Matt Galardi, who worked for Morgensen for nearly 20 years.
“It was out of the blue,” Galardi said of Morgensen’s death. “He was perfectly healthy.”
Morgensen, as overseer of campus construction, saw UNO through nearly a quarter-century of constant change, including the construction of the Weber Fine Arts Building, the Durham Science Center, the HPER building and the Peter Kiewit Institute.
Galardi, now director of client services at UNO, recalled Morgensen as a huge fan of UNO athletics who never missed a Mavericks hockey game. Once, when he gave Morgensen a hockey stick signed by members of the UNO hockey team, Morgensen was “basically in tears,” Galardi said.
Galardi also shared one of his more humorous memories of Morgensen: The first day the parking structure opened to the public, Morgensen received an urgent phone call. A gate arm had come down on a student’s car. When Morgensen arrived at the scene, he discovered the student was his daughter, Shelly.
Chancellor Nancy Belck, said in a written statement: “Our campus family has lost one of its most dedicated administrators. Much of the credit for UNO’s modern, attractive campus is Neil’s vision and now, his legacy … UNO is a better place for Neil having served here.”
Morgensen was popular within the UNO community. His wife, Pat, often made trays of food — “enough to feed 30 people,” Galardi said — which he brought in to work. He participated in the faculty golf league and was known to play racquetball three times a week.
In addition to his role at UNO, Morgensen also served as treasurer for the Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators.
Morgensen could “cross that barrier from boss to friend,” Galardi said. “He was the same person at work as he was away from work.”
Services for Morgensen will be held Saturday, 10 a.m., at St. Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, 14330 Eagle Run Drive. Visitation will be held this evening from 4 to 7 p.m., at the same location.