Helen Boosalis

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Helen Boosalis
Helen Boosalis.jpg
Boosalis with President Ronald Reagan in 1981
Mayor of Lincoln
In office
January 1975 – January 1983
Preceded bySam Schwartzkopf
Succeeded byRoland Luedtke
39th President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
Preceded byRichard Hatcher
Succeeded byColeman Young
Personal details
Born(1919-08-28)August 28, 1919
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedJune 15, 2009(2009-06-15) (aged 89)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of Minnesota, Twin Cities (BA)

Helen G. Boosalis (August 28, 1919 - June 15, 2009)[1] was an American Democratic Party politician from Nebraska.

Early life[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]


In 1959 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.[3]

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.

Democratic gubernatorial primary results, May 13, 1986[4][5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Helen Boosalis 63,830 44.01
Democratic David Domina 37,975 26.18
Democratic Chris Beutler 31,605 21.79
Democratic Robert Prokop 5,160 3.56
Democratic Marge Higgins 4,433 3.06
Democratic Barton Chandler 1,260 .87
Democratic Mina Dillingham 402 .28
Democratic Write-in 369 .25

In the primary, Boosalis carried 77 of Nebraska's 93 counties, Domina carried 16 counties in the Northeast section of the state, and Beutler carried no counties.[6]

Boosalis went on to lose to the Republican candidate, State Treasurer Kay A. Orr in the general election. Boosalis receiving 47.1% of the vote and Orr received 52.9%.[7] This election was the first state gubernatorial election in U.S. history where the candidates of both major national parties were women.[2]


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.

Personal life[edit]

Boosalis died from a brain tumor on June 15, 2009 at the age of 89.[2]


  1. ^ "Helen G. Boosalis, 1919-2009 [RG0743.AM] | History Nebraska". Retrieved 2022-11-12.
  2. ^ a b c "Former Lincoln mayor Boosalis dies" (Lincoln Journal-Star article)
  3. ^ a b Star, DON WALTON / Lincoln Journal. "Former Lincoln mayor Boosalis dies". JournalStar.com. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  4. ^ "Nebraskans Choose Women for Governor's Race". The New York Times. 1986-05-14.
  5. ^ Hickey, Donald R.; Wunder, Susan A.; Wunder, John R. (2007). Nebraska Moments. ISBN 9780803215726.
  6. ^ Hickey, Donald R.; Wunder, Susan A.; Wunder, John R. (2007-01-01). Nebraska Moments. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803215726.
  7. ^ Official Report of the Board of State Canvassers of the State of Nebraska (PDF), 1986, retrieved 21 November 2010


  1. "Boosalis, Helen". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved January 10, 2006.
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Lincoln
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Nebraska
Succeeded by