Helen Boosalis was born as Helen Geankoplis in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Greek immigrant parents, where she grew up working in her father's Minneapolis restaurant. In 1945 she married Michael Gus "Mike" Boosalis, a World War II veteran and graduate of the University of Minnesota. Their daughter, Mary Beth, was born three years later. In 1951, the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where her husband had accepted a job at the University of Nebraska.
In 1959 Helen Boosalis was elected to the Lincoln City Council, scoring an upset victory over an incumbent, and was subsequently reelected three times. She won another upset victory over incumbent Sam Schwartzkopf to become the city's first woman mayor in 1975. From 1981 to 1982, she served as the first female President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Shortly after completing her tenure as Mayor in 1983, Boosalis was appointed as Director of the Nebraska Department of Aging in the Cabinet of then-Governor Bob Kerrey, she served in that post until she announced her candidacy for Governor of Nebraska in the 1986 election. Boosalis received a plurality of the vote in the crowded Democratic primary with 43.8% of the votes. She lost to the Republican candidate, State Treasurer Kay A. Orr in the general election with Boosalis receiving 47.1% of the vote and Orr getting 53.9%. This election was the first state gubernatorial election in U.S. history where the candidates of both major national parties were women.
Following her electoral defeat, Boosalis was an active member of several state and national organizations, most notably serving as Chairwoman of Board of Directors of the American Association of Retired Persons.
|Mayor of Lincoln
1975 – 1983
Roland A. Luedtke
- "Former Lincoln mayor Boosalis dies" (Lincoln Journal-Star article)
- Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska, 1986, retrieved 21 November 2010
- "The Political Graveyard". Boosalis, Helen. Retrieved January 10, 2006.
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