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December 23, 2011

Lienemann Family - Power in Numbers

At age 91, the oldest active certified public accountant in Nebraska, knows the power of numbers. Delmar “Del” Lienemann Sr., also knows the power in them and believes it is impossible to know too many people.

“You never know when somebody you meet might be the person who leads you into something very important in life. That has happened to me all my life,” Lienemann said.

For example, consider the series of people he met in route to finding his wife. When he visited UNL to find a place to live, the Lutheran student minister suggested he visit the Beta Sigma Psi fraternity.

“I knocked on the door of the fraternity house and Harry Kammerlohr ‘42 (from Dade’s City, Fla.) answered the door. I had met him at the World’s Fair in Chicago, because he and my brothers were the youngest people on the tour. That’s how I got into the fraternity,” Del explained.

Later, he went on a double date with another fraternity brother. The women they were dating were from the Alpha Psi Delta sorority.

“I asked my friend if he was going to call his date, Charlotte, back. He wasn’t sure, so I told him I would give him a week and then I would call her,” Del said. The fraternity brother never called her and Del married Charlotte in 1944.

Thus, they began their life adventure, which included raising seven children. They include: Dan, Denise, Diane, Dorothy, Doug, Del Jr., and David, who died at age 15 from a brain tumor in 1968. All are UNL alumni and the three sons are also CBA graduates.

Growing up in a large family was a lot of fun. We have a very strong faith life and our desire to participate and support various community projects and organizations were learned through my parents,” Denise Lienemann Scholz said.

Lienemann Family

Lienemann Family Holding UNL Diplomas - 1987

After graduating from UNL in 1941 and working a few years, Del, Sr., bought his own accounting office in 1945 in downtown Lincoln. Less than a year later, he purchased a gift shop for Charlotte to manage after she graduated from nursing school at UNO. The two Lienemann businesses were integral in how he met his biggest client and good friend, Ethyl Abbott.

“One of my tax clients needed the financial documents from Prairie Airways and they had no books. He wanted me to visit the manager out there and offer my help,” Del said.

Del went to Prairie Airways, which was owned by Chris and Ethel Abbott. He looked at their documents, “told them what they needed to do,” and a few days later, a woman came to visit him at his office. It was Ethel. They visited and when she left, he had the job of a lifetime.

“Chris’ office was above the gift shop. Every Saturday at noon, he would come down and visit with me about business in the world. I learned a lot from that. Ethel told me he liked to get a younger person’s philosophy of life,” Del said.

His work for the Abbott’s expanded to include Rocket Air Services in Omaha, a radio station in Shenandoah, Iowa to eventually managing all of Ethel’s accounts.

Del also became the President and CEO of the Ethel S. Abbott Charitable Foundation, which was created to provide grants that benefit the Lincoln, Omaha and Western Nebraska areas. When Ethel died in 1992, her $22 million estate was left to the foundation.

The Abbott Foundation has made contributions to organizations like the Red Cross, Folsom Children’s Zoo, Lincoln Public Schools, the University of Nebraska Foundation and many others. One of the most prominent gifts was $2.6 million for the development of the Abbott Sports Complex in northeast Lincoln.

Other members of the Lienemann family are also members of the Abbott Foundation Board. Son Doug, who is the chief financial officer at Midwest Steel Works, Inc., in Lincoln, also serves on the College of Business Advisory Board.

“Dad has always been very charity-oriented and taught us that. Over the years, he has encouraged many of his clients to also adopt a charitable focus in their lives. He has helped clients develop a number of other private foundations similar to the Abbott Foundation,” Del Jr. said.

Del Sr., continues to work out of the D.A. Lienemann CPA firm in Lincoln. An active volunteer throughout his career, he is chair of the Lincoln Symphony Foundation Board. He has been recognized nationally as the International Sertoman of the Year and the national fraternity of Beta Sigma Psi named its highest award after him, the Lienemann Achievement Award.

Also listed in Who’s Who in the Midwest, America and the World, one of the latest honors for Del is his family’s decision to endow a faculty chair in the School of Accountancy at CBA in his name.

“The gift from the Lienemann family will impact the School of Accountancy by helping us build a world class faculty and deliver a first class accounting education to our students. Del told me that his education enabled him to manage numbers well, which led him to help others in this community and this state. This gift will be an example so that others can do the same,” said Dr. Donde Ashmos Plowman, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean.