‘To Give Is To Live’

By Nikki McKim

Rodney Vandeberg has only lived in Falls City for four decades but the passion and love he has for this community make’s it seem like he’s been a life long resident. Chances are if you live or work in Falls City, you have benefited from Rod’s hard work and dedication to this city.

Rod has done many things for Falls City. He served as President of First National Bank, and has held many positions in several organizations including, the Falls City Chamber of Commerce, Elks Club and Country Club. 

He’s been instrumental in the development of many projects such as the economic development office, which later became the public/private partnership known as EDGE. He was one of the leaders that promoted the renovation of Falls City High School, and the new library. He and his late wife, Jan, also donated the money used for the library’s computer lab, which boasts 30 computers. 

In addition to his hard work and dedication to Falls City, Rod served our country in the United States Army Reserves (1958-64). He served two separate tours of active duty. The second tour of duty represented a recall to active duty because of the Berlin crisis. He was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant on October 1, 1964. Rodney has served as President of the Nebraska Bankers Association, on the Lutheran Family Services Foundation for more than 15 years and as the Foundation’s Chairman for more than 10 years. 

Rod served two terms as mayor. During that time the community built the new Community Medical Center, The Falls City Library and Arts Center and the new Aquatic Park. 

In one of the nomination letters that earned Rod his place as Grand Marshal of the 2011 Cobblestone Parade, Charles Bentley said, “Rod’s upbeat attitude infects everyone he comes in contact with.” 

Bentley added, “His motive is not for personal gain, but to see Falls City become the city we all want and need” 

Rod was also responsible for the community’s compliance with government regulations regarding the updating of the 911 emergency dispatch system. In 2008 he was appointed to the Nebraska Highway Commission by former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. In a letter dated June 23, 2011, Heineman wrote to Vandeberg, “Your knowledge and input are valuable and your service to the citizens of Nebraska is appreciated.” Vandeberg is the first non-Lincoln District I Commissioner.

More recently Vandeberg was instrumental in the development of the Fiedler Family Ballpark Complex. Rod’s fierce drive and determination went into doing something for the next generation of Falls City residents. He stopped at nothing to get the new ballpark ready for the youth of our community and the surrounding communities. 

Rod also campaigned for a donation of land, and funds, so the Falls City Jaycees could build a new arena for their annual tractor pull, and demo derby. Cory Snethen and his family answered that call for land. The Jaycees were able to finish their area and have found great success in their new location.  Shawn Fouraker who was President of the Jaycee’s at the time gave Rod a lot of credit in getting the arena done. 

Vandeberg’s fundraising efforts don’t stop in Falls City. Rod’s reach goes clear into Missouri in the form of the new Missouri River Bridge another project he worked tirelessly to see move forward.

Rod and his wife Janis raised two daughters and found time to establish an annual scholarship for a graduating senior of both Falls City High School and Falls City Sacred Heart. These scholarships have been instrumental in assisting many kids with the much-needed resources to attend college. 

Rod has been an active member of the Jaycees for 55 years, starting as a member of the Lincoln Jaycees in 1960. He served as the Lincoln Chapter as a chairman and as a Director. He was elected Lincoln Jaycee President in 1965. He served as State Parliamentarian and as a State Vice President.  On January 25, 2015 Rod was inducted into the Nebraska Jaycee Foundation Hall of Fame in Lincoln, NE. 

The Hall of Fame recognizes leaders who were still active members in their hometown Junior chamber as they supported relevant causes and were able to advance in the business world due to the leadership and skill development training acquired by being active Jaycee members. 

There are now 40 inductees in the Nebraska Jaycee Hall of Fame. The inductees are selected by a nomination, resume, and application process prior to being selected by the Nebraska Jaycee Foundation.

When Rod was working tirelessly to get the new ballpark built he reiterated a phrase he had recently heard, and it sums up Rod’s spirit and drive to better our community, he said

To Live Is To Learn,

To Learn Is To Know,

To Know Is To Grow,

To Grow Is To Give,

To Give Is To Live.

Rod has done just that; he has truly lived by giving back to the community he so loves.

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