Royalty Named

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella XLIV are Jeff Gokie and Karin Rieger.  The Columbus Days Royalty for 2018 were chosen by Past Royalty on the basis of their service and community impact, and they will be crowned in advance of Columbus Days.

Karin Rieger has been a truly dedicated community servant in Columbus for just over 30 years, since coming to Columbus in 1987 to work for Central Community College.

Her volunteer service has included Board terms for many local organizations, including the, Columbus Public Schools Foundation, Platte Valley Humane Society, Center for Survivors, UNL Columbus Area Alumni, ARC of Platte County and Miss Columbus Scholarship Program.  Karin is Division Chair of the Non-profit division of the Columbus Area United Way campaign and helps lead the Community Builders Organization, a regional effort to share learning among local communities.

For the Columbus Area Chamber, Karin has been a Commodore since 2000, has co-chaired the Leadership Columbus program, volunteers at Taste of Columbus, and was a subcommittee chair for the Columbus Sesquicentennial celebration in 2006.  She currently chairs the Columbus Days “Running of the Frankfurters” and the race draws more dachshunds to Frankfort Square every year!  This year, Karin will also help lead the Columbus Days Mascot Races.

Karin has been a dedicated servant in many roles at Peace Lutheran Church, serving on the Church Council, Board of Education and teaching Sunday School.  In addition to all that, she has also volunteered her time for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Elks, and Classic Sisters Sorority.  Karin’s family was actively involved in Columbus High activities while her sons were students.

Karin is currently an Associate Dean at CCC-Columbus.  As you might expect, she also gives her time on the campus beyond her job duties.  She co-founded the Central Honors Institute that brings middle-school aged high-ability learners from the entire state to the Columbus campus and co-led the “Tomorrow’s Leaders Today” program to build leadership skills for local youth

Given that record of service, it is no surprise that this is not the first recognition of Karin’s efforts.  She has been named the Columbus Area United Way Outstanding Volunteer and the Charles Farnham Volunteer of the Year. She was given the Distinguished Service Award in 2007 and the Outstanding Adult Educator in 1999 by the Adult Continuing Education Association of Nebraska and has been named the CCC-Columbus Employee of the Year.

Karin and her husband Doug have two children, son Kyle and his wife Megan, and son Jared.

King Ferdinand XLIV Jeff Gokie came to Columbus from Dallas in 1995, but was raised in Atkinson, Nebraska.  Almost immediately, both Jeff and his wife Cathy began having an impact.  Through their business, Big Apple Bagels, Jeff donated excess food every day to the Rescue Mission, Platte County Food Pantry and Center for Survivors.  Through his children, he became involved in activities at St. Isidore Elementary School and Scotus High School, including the role of co-chair for the Scotus Gala.

Jeff was a graduate of Leadership Columbus in 2000, and used those tools to become even more involved in the community.  Jeff has served as a Board member and Executive Committee member for the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.  Jeff also serves on the Chamber Entrepreneurship Committee.  Jeff took on one of the most daunting community projects in a generation, co-chairing the 2006 Columbus Sesquicentennial Celebration.  He contributed hundreds of hours of his own time to the project.

Jeff has been a driving force behind Columbus Days for several years.  Last year, he took hold of the theme in his role on the Columbus Days Board.  He created the Buffalo Bill Coin Search, led the effort to create the fundraising “Jail” in Frankfort Square, and created, led, and participated in the Beard Judging Contest.  As he has for several years, Jeff headed the Columbus Days Parade committee.

Jeff is a Board member of the Columbus Community Hospital, serving on several committees including Finance chair for this vital community institution.  He is also an active member of the Columbus Board of Realtors and served as president.

Jeff and his family have served St. Isidore Parish since coming to Columbus.  He was a charter member of the Knights of Columbus Council and has served in several offices including Grand Knight.  In 2017, Jeff and his family was awarded State Family of the Year for the Knights of Columbus.  He has managed a booth at the St. Isidore Bazaar since 1996, has led four mission trips, coordinated J.C. Camp for four years, was a member of the Godparent program, and served in other roles at the church.

He has been a Teammates mentor for more than 20 years.  For four years, our King was co-chair for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  He was President of the Columbus Tennis Association, leading the effort to install new and refurbish existing courts in Columbus.  He has coached YMCA and club basketball teams, and has coached baseball, softball and soccer.  Jeff serves as a mentor for entrepreneur programs at CCC-Columbus.

Our king won the Charles Farnham Volunteer of the Year Award in 2006.

Jeff and Cathy have two sons, Michael who is in his 5th year of St Charles Borromeo Catholic Seminary in Philadelphia, David who works at Pacific Life in Omaha, and a daughter Jenn, who teaches English at Lincoln Pius.

The 2018 Columbus Days Royalty will be crowned August 13th at the Coronation Celebration, which starts with a social at 5:30 at Ramada-Columbus.  Tickets will be available from the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce office.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella reign over Columbus Days each year.  They are selected by past royalty and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee.  Selection is based primarily on the person’s long-term impact on the Columbus region.