Garner R. Girthoffer 12/15/17 12/15/17 4:48:05 PM
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Garner R. Girthoffer
Nov 28, 1977 – Nov 30, 2017
For a young man of 40, Garner Girthoffer made an indelible mark beyond those years – on his colleagues, friends and family.
After his unexpected death, online messages about the young lawyer praised his people skills.
“I was shocked and saddened to read of his passing,” his former teacher at Masters Elementary School, Phyllis O’Brien, wrote. “I so enjoyed him as a student. He always had a funny story and a twinkle in his eye. I know he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.”
His family said he always wanted to become an attorney, fueled by watching “endless episodes of LA Law and Night Court.” They said, “He had an incredible passion for public service and always felt the need to advocate for those who couldn’t help themselves.”
After graduating from Central High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he earned his JD at UNL. The Omaha native was admitted to the Bar in Nebraska and New York, then moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill, eventually working for the National Conference of State Legislators.
His former co-worker at NCSL, Michelle Blackston, wrote, “We were so shocked and saddened by the death of Garner, He was an amazing person and so full of life. I loved his dry sense of humor and his way of making everyone around him feel at ease. I thought one day he would be governor of Nebraska because he was so smart, warm and kindhearted. What a tragic loss for so many.”
Garner moved back to Nebraska, became the legislative liaison at the Nebraska Department of Revenue, and started a family. In 2013, he was named Employee of the Year by the Department of Revenue.
In 2015, he joined Baird Holm in Omaha to work as a lobbyist and to practice tax law.
“He had an in-depth knowledge of state and local tax law,” David Levy, his supervisor and co-worker in their Government Relations practice at Baird Holm, said. “It was a good combination for us. He was a great asset. And he really loved what he did.
“He never liked his birthdays because he always said he hadn’t accomplished enough … but he was plenty accomplished.”
As for the off-duty man, Levy said, “He had a very serious exterior … and a great wry sense of humor.”
Levy said Garner was also extremely devoted to his family. He and his wife Becky have three young children: Max, Molly and Charlie, ages 8, 6 and 4.
“I had an opportunity to visit with him at the hospital, where we had a good talk, mostly about politics. I apologized for that, but he laughed and said no, don’t apologize. I love it.”
Levy said it was apparent that “he was much loved by many, in many aspects of his life.” He said there were scores of mourners at the visitation, including many members of the Baird Holm law firm. “He was a valued member of our extended family.
A sampling of comments on the online tribute page highlight his influence on others:
“An incredible and amazing person to know and call a friend… Blessed to have met Garner as he truly was a wonderful human being… An all around great guy… I miss you my friend, words cannot describe how heavy my heart is.”
Besides his wife and children, he is survived by his mother, two brothers and a sister and other relatives. A funeral Mass was held December 5. Memorials are suggested to the Girthoffer Children Educational Fund.