Allen Beermann, former long-time Nebraska Secretary of State and recently retired head of the Nebraska Press Association, spoke to Seward Rotary Club, reflecting on his life in public service and his efforts to live up to Rotary's motto of "Service Above Self" as a member of Lincoln #14 Rotary Club.
The Seward Rotary Club hosted Allen Beermann, former Nebraska Secretary of State for over 30 years and head of the Nebraska Press Association for 25 years, as well as his years with the Nebraska National Guard.  The Nebraska leader has recently retired and visited with the Seward Rotary Club, sharing some of the fun and unique stories that happened with his 60+ years of community service.  He was introduced by Rotarians Phil Bangert and Clark Kolterman-who serve as the March program co-chairman.  Beermann is a longtime leader in the Lincoln #14 Rotary Club, in Lincoln, NE and has worked on various committees with both Kolterman and Bangert. Beermann reflected on a host of experiences, especially those stories dealing with his travels.  He has personally visited over 50 countries worldwide, officially promoting and representing the State of Nebraska and the Nebraska Press Association.
Beermann claims he is a “country boy,” raised on a farm in Dakota County, who went to a country school.  “However, my school was not a one-room school. It had two rooms,” The school was called Brushy Bend School because it sat in the brush on a bend in the road. Beermann is the son of immigrants, both from Germany, though his mother came from the Russian zone. They were first-generation Americans who studied English at night as new immigrants and wanted to make sure their four children would go to college.
During his final year at Creighton Law School, Beermann came to Lincoln to do the paperwork required to become a notary. Secretary of State Frank Marsh offered to give him a ride back to Creighton, and on the way suggested he might want to apply for an administrative assistant position after he passed his bar exam that summer. Beermann did, was hired, and after working in the Secretary of State’s office for several years, he was elected Secretary of State, an office he held for 24 years through six elections from 1971-1995.  He noted that in his first campaign, he ran against Seward County’s Stan Matzke.  “We were good friends and often drove together for the campaign debates, he stated.  “In fact, the person who drove, was invited to speak last!  It was a different time in politics.”
Beermann’s foreign trips began with people-to-people missions, where ordinary citizens traveled and stayed in the homes of people in other countries. Later, he was Secretary of State just as Nebraska began doing trade missions, and he helped set up dozens of those early trips. He became an experienced traveler and learned protocol, appropriate seating arrangements and cultural customs. He knew that you open gifts in private, not in the public ceremony, in many Asian countries. He also reminds travelers that you give a little bow when you hand over your business card, not stuff it in your pocket. He remembers one trade mission exhibit where a local company was about to give out green ball caps, unaware that green was “kind of a scarlet letter color” to the Chinese at the time. Beermann, who’s been to 50 countries, has represented the state so often in public and private life that he’s often called Nebraska’s unofficial ambassador.
Beermann describes the three spheres of his life: his professional life as Secretary of State and head of the state Press Association; his military career, where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Judge Advocate General Corps, and his charitable work. He is proud of all three.
“He was just a consummate public servant. He really was. His heart was always in the right place,” says Phil Bangert, who worked with Beermann on a variety projects promoting Nebraska over the decades. “He knows everyone in the state and many across the USA and world. Whoever he worked for, whether the people of the state or the Press Association or a philanthropic group like Rotary International, they always got twice their money's worth. He always follows through, works hard.”
Beermann says a lifetime of working with people of many faiths, many cultures, and many philosophies has taught him the importance of being civil. “Everyone has flaws. No one is perfect. But that is no reason not to respect others.” Beermann worked with six governors in the Secretary of State’s office – three Democrats, three Republicans – and got along with them all.  He has emceed three governor's inaugurations and hosted 27 voyages aboard the USS Nebraska, a nuclear submarine.
He thanked the Nebraskan’s in audience for allowing him to represent and serve for decades with both offices of the Nebraska Secretary of State and the Nebraska Press Association.  His goal is to live the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self!” It is obvious he lives up to that motto!