Omaha mayor returns to City Hall after husband’s death

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha’s mayor made her first public appearance Tuesday and confirmed that she’ll return to work and seek reelection after her husband, a prominent local surgeon, died earlier this month from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Mayor Jean Stothert thanked the public and her campaign opponents for their words of support following the death of her husband, Dr. Joseph Stothert.

“I love my job and I love Omaha, but my deep and lasting love is for Joe Stothert,” she said with her adult children at her side and top city officials standing behind her.

Her voice cracking at times, Stothert said her husband would have wanted her to continue as mayor and recalled how he joined her door-knocking campaigns, her public town hall events and her annual State of the City addresses. She said her children, Elizabeth Leddy and Dr. Andrew Stothert, encouraged her to run as well.

“Like all of us who have experienced tragedy and death, we must after a time away begin to continue our lives, as unfamiliar as they may be,” she said

Joe Stothert, 72, was a longtime faculty member at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a critical care physician at Nebraska Medicine. The couple moved to Omaha from Galveston, Texas, in 1993 after he was recruited for a medical position at Creighton University.

Authorities said Stothert was found dead at the couple’s southwest Omaha home on March 5. The couple had been married for 40 years.

Jean Stothert said her husband’s death highlights the importance of health care workers getting mental health treatment when they feel they need it. She said she and others had recently noticed a change in her husband’s behavior.

“Our family noticed it and his work family noticed it,” she said. “The past year had been very difficult for Joe. The questions that we have will never be fully answered. We know that and we accept it.”

Stothert said her campaign will resume on Wednesday. Her campaign and her opponents’ campaigns paused their activity after her husband’s death.

Joe Stothert also served as medical director for the Omaha Fire Department, the state’s director of trauma and other roles.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte

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