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JoAnn Martin

JoAnn Martin

LINCOLN — Services for Plainview native JoAnn Martin, who served as CEO of Ameritas from 2009 to 2020, will be at 2 p.m. Thursday Oct. 28, at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 8550 Pioneers Blvd., in Lincoln. Private burial will be prior to the service at Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery.

A memorial gathering will be 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Roper & Sons South Lincoln Chapel, 3950 Hohensee Drive, in Lincoln.


JoAnn Martin, 67, former CEO of Ameritas, passed Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, surrounded by her loving family. In July, she was diagnosed with a rare degenerative neurological disease that progressed rapidly.

JoAnn was born on Sept. 20, 1954, to Lonnie and Alta (Petersen) Rea in Plainview, the fifth of seven children. She was a lifelong Nebraskan who grew up on a farm near Plainview and attended a one-room country school through sixth grade. She then attended public school in Plainview, graduating from high school in 1972.

Following high school, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in accounting. She graduated with high distinction in 1975 while passing all components of the certified public accountant examination, a feat seldom accomplished by the age of 20. Her leadership was evidenced early as she was a charter member and the first president of the Beta Alpha Psi honorary society at the university.

She began her professional career at the Touche Ross & Company accounting firm in 1976. JoAnn attended Colorado State University in 1981, where she completed a master’s degree in taxation.

She joined Ameritas in 1984, then known as Bankers Life Nebraska. She started as an audit division manager and rose through the company, serving in various key leadership roles before being elected CEO in 2009. She retired in January 2020.

Under her leadership, Ameritas saw its assets grow by 61%, and its customer base increase by 75%. Martin held the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and FLMI (Fellow, Life Management Institute) designations. She had the distinct honor and privilege to work with many talented colleagues during her 35 years at Ameritas to fulfill the lives of customers and associates. She thrived on team success.

In addition to her roles at Ameritas, she served as a board member for publicly traded companies NRC Health and Nelnet. She participated in numerous other business and community roles. Among them were chairwoman of the American Council of Life Insurers (second woman ever), chairwoman of the University of Nebraska Foundation board of directors, member of board of directors for the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, chairwoman of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Million Dollar Roundtable Foundation, board member of several University of Nebraska endeavors. She is also a fellow in the National Association of Corporate Directors. She served on the Lincoln Vision and Prosper Lincoln steering committees and was vice chairwoman for the Lincoln Community Foundation. She also volunteered for many school and community causes and was a member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Some of the awards bestowed on JoAnn for her corporate and community leadership include her 2015 induction into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame, 2018 Woman of the Year honor at the Lincoln Journal Star’s Inspire Awards, the Burnham Yates Citizenship Award from the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Nebraskan of the Year by Lincoln Rotary Club 14. In 2004, she was inducted into the School of Accountancy Hall of Fame at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The University of Nebraska Foundation honored JoAnn as its 2021 recipient of the Perry W. Branch Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. She was recently recognized as the initial recipient of the JoAnn Martin Civic Leadership Award.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said Thursday that Martin was a pillar of the Lincoln community and trailblazer in the insurance industry. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green said, “All of UNL mourns the much too soon loss of one of the greatest Huskers, most distinguished alumna, and widely respected business leaders who ever lived. She deeply loved her University and we deeply loved her. She made us all better.”

She is survived by her spouse, Derrel Martin of Lincoln; daughters Jennifer (Carl) Bartholomew of Omaha, Kimberly (Ben) Neuwirth of San Francisco, Calif.; grandchildren Anna Bartholomew, Abigail and Sophie Neuwirth; and sister Donna Carpenter of Neligh; brothers Lonald Rea of Lincoln, Robert Rea of Dallas, Texas, James (Melisah) Rea of Omaha, Steve (Nick McCarthy) Rea of Lockport, Ill.; mother-in-law Merrella Martin of Benkelman; sister-in-law Kathy (Lonny) Stahlecker of Benkelman; brothers-in-law Terry (Verla) Martin of Benkelman and Merrel (Diana) Martin of Benkelman.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Lonnie and Alta Rea; sister Barbara Kelly; father-in-law Harry Martin; sister-in-law Judy Rea; and brothers-in-law Billy Kelly and JC Carpenter.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed towards either the University of Nebraska Foundation (1010 Lincoln Mall, #300, Lincoln, NE, 68508) or the Lincoln Community Foundation (215 Centennial Mall South, #100, Lincoln, NE, 68508). Please note memorial donations made “In Memory of JoAnn Martin.”

Livestreaming and condolences can be found online at

In other news

NORFOLK — Memorial services for Irvin C. Paulsen, 78, Norfolk, will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church in Norfolk. The Rev. Jason Schulz will officiate. Private inurnment will be at a later date.

NORFOLK — Services for Willis R. Schlote, 98, Norfolk, are pending with Home for Funerals in Norfolk. Willis Schlote died Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Care Center.

NORFOLK — Services for Vernon C. Seevers, 91, of Norfolk are pending with Home for Funerals.

O’NEILL — Services for Lucille Pinkerman, 96, Valley, formerly of O’Neill, will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Faith Community Church in O’Neill. The Rev. Paul Harder will officiate. Burial will be at 1:30 p.m. in the Scottville Cemetery north of O’Neill.

SPENCER — Services for Gus Bentz, 65, Spencer, will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Spencer Community Hall. The Rev. Grant H. Graff will officiate with private burial at a later date.

Services for Theresia E. Buchholz, 63, Camden, N.Y., will be at a later date under the direction of LaRobardiere Funeral Home, 109 Main St., in Camden. Burial will be in Mount Zion Cemetery, 6075 Mount Zion Road, in Waynesboro, Pa.

WEST POINT — Services for Les D. Ott, 76, of Beemer are pending with the Minnick Funeral Home in West Point.

NORFOLK — Memorial services for Thomas Dover Sr. will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the First Presbyterian Church, 104 S. 10th St., in Norfolk. The Rev. Brian Johnson will officiate. Inurnment will be in Crown Hill Cemetery.

NORFOLK — Services for Anita Brenneman, 81, Norfolk, will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Grace Lutheran Church in Norfolk. The Revs. Ray Wilke and Christopher Asbury will officiate. Burial will be in Prospect Hill Cemetery.

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