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Deryl F. Hamann: Using His Success to Help Others Succeed

By Bill Wax

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize key individuals and organizations that have helped the University become Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The University’s founders were Bellevue businessmen who saw the need to expand and strengthen its Board of Directors to tap leadership and support from the greater Omaha area. Deryl F. Hamann personifies that leadership and support as Builders of Bellevue University.

Deryl F. Hamann:  Using His Success to Help Others Succeed

From humble beginnings, Omahan Deryl F. Hamann used his experience, ability, determination and work ethic to build a successful legal and finance career that has enabled him to help many others including the students of Bellevue University, to succeed.

Deryl F. HamannIn his youth on an Iowa farm during the 1930’s Depression Era, his family lived on a dirt road, in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing. His first paid job, at age 11, was cutting cockleburs from corn fields. He went on to graduate high school and worked his way through the Fort Dodge Junior College, followed by the University of Nebraska College of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1958, passing the Nebraska State Bar exam that year.

After a year as a law clerk for the US District Judge, Robert Van Pelt, he joined the Omaha-based Baird Holm, LLP, law firm in 1959 and built a distinguished career in corporate, tax, trust and estate law.  A former managing partner, he is now “of counsel” to the firm.   His name appears in the directory, Best Lawyers in America, which in 2011 rated him Corporate Lawyer of the Year in Omaha.

In 1971, Hamann embarked on a second career in banking, purchasing a small southern Iowa bank. The enterprise grew and he eventually became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Great Western Bancorporation, Inc., one of Nebraska’s largest bank holding companies, which, at the time it was sold in 2008, included more than 100 bank locations in six states.

Deryl2During his career, Mr. Hamann has received numerous awards and been recognized for professional and business achievement, civic service, and philanthropy. A long-time advocate of higher education, he joined the Bellevue University Board in 1990 and served actively for 22 years, including a two-year term as Board Chair. He has been an Emeritus director since 2012. He generously supported capital facilities expansion, outreach scholarships for minority and financially needy students, and the University’s American Vision and Values initiatives. Bellevue University presented him an honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree in 2003.  In 2012, he was named King of Ak-Sar-Ben.  Then, in 2014, he was inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame by the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce.  In 2016, he was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame of Iowa Central Community College (successor to Fort Dodge Junior College.)

[caption id="attachment_2210" width="300"] Deryl Hamann and his wife, Ramona, whose names are on the University’s Donor Wall of Recognition.[/caption]

Carrying on the next generation of service and support to the community and Bellevue University is Deryl’s son, Dan Hamann, who joined the University Board of Directors in 2013 and currently serves as Secretary.  Dan is Chairman of Spectrum Financial Services, Inc., an insurance and investment business, and he previously spent 15 years working for Great Western Bancorporation, Inc., including time as the company’s President.  He earned a B.A. degree from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.