In Memory of Gordy Hauptman (1947 – 2008)
Founder; Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
” … if there was ever a guy I met that left this world in better shape than he found it, it was Gordy Hauptman.”
– Matt Butler, chairman, president and CEO, Hunt Transportation
“Gordy was a bigger-than-life individual. His personality, his warmth … he would just brighten up the place.”
– Ken Bird, executive director, Bright Futures Foundation, and former superintendent of Westside Schools where the Hauptman children attended
Gordon R. Hauptman’s long and distinguished law career began in 1974 when he was awarded a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. But he had been preparing for the job most of his life. His innate respect for the individual, his ability to put people at ease, his love of family, sense of humor and zest for life made personal injury law the perfect choice for Gordy.
He founded Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop in 1987. A tireless worker on behalf of his clients, Gordy believed passionately in fair compensation for those injured through the carelessness of others. His talent for advocacy made him a force to be reckoned with at the negotiating table and in the courtroom.
Winning a great settlement, however, did not always compensate a client facing a life of pain or incapacitation. Gordy’s compassion for victims of catastrophic accidents led him to establish the Safe Ride Home Program, the first of its kind in the country.
Introduced in 1990, Safe Ride Home encourages holiday partiers to call Happy Cab for a ride home if they’ve had too much alcohol to operate a vehicle safely. The program keeps people from injuring themselves and others, and the law firm pays for the cab rides.
Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop has proudly sponsored the program ever since, and has expanded it to include the entire Christmas/New Year’s season and St. Patrick’s Day. The firm also partners with the YWCA to offer safe rides to shelters for victims of abuse. The firm pays for more than 1,800 rides each year, as well as the marketing efforts to make the public aware of its existence.
As Butler also stated, “I think there’s a special place in heaven for Gordy, because we will never know the lives that were saved each year. It was one of the single best community service programs I’ve ever seen, and who knew it would have lasted for such a long time.”
Gordy and his wife, Maureen, were the proud parents of six children: four boys (David, Paul, Grant and Erik) and one daughter (Mara). Their son Joel died in infancy. A close-knit family, Gordy supported his children in all their pursuits. But he had an uncanny ability to make even strangers feel like family.
“My dad had a talent. He could speak to people at every level. It was an unbelievable gift. He loved to meet new people and make new friends.”
– Dave Hauptman, oldest son of the Hauptman family
“He was the perfect example of the qualities that make a good lawyer. He set a tone in our office that made it a rare place to practice law. He was a terrific friend and I’ll always remember him for being such a kind-hearted person.”
– Steve Lathrop, Nebraska state senator and partner with Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
In 2003, Gordy was told he had prostate cancer. He faced the news with the courage, tenacity and humor that had always characterized him. On Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008, after five years of keeping the disease at bay, he lost the battle. An outpouring of condolences came from every part of the country, from people in every walk of life, family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. They expressed sadness, explained how Gordy had touched their lives, and most importantly, made them laugh.