Patricia Emma Harney

April 22, 1955 - May 10, 2022

Patricia Emma Harney, 67, of Lincoln passed away surrounded by family on May 10, 2022 after a heroic battle with pancreatic cancer. Beloved mother, sister, friend, and mentor. Born April 22, 1955 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Herman and Sylvia (Korbel) Harney.

Patti was a force of pure joy, known for her warmth, intelligence, creativity, kindness, and excellent sense of humor. She was an extraordinary, devoted mother, compassionate friend, encouraging mentor, and unforgettable colleague. Her love of language and storytelling inspired all who worked with her, collaborators and students alike; and her infectious laugh lifted the spirits of everyone around her. Patti had a beautiful soprano voice and studied music during her college years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduation, she brought her musical talents to a long, prolific career in advertising, and eventually found her way back to UNL teaching in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She first joined the college in 2015 as a lecturer in advertising and public relations. In 2019, she became an assistant professor of practice and was the college’s first Honors Faculty Fellow in partnership with the University Honors Program. Before joining the college, Patti had an impressive 30-year trajectory at some of the nation’s most prestigious advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson in New York City and Leo Burnett in Chicago, rising from copywriter to executive creative director and senior vice president. In New York and Chicago, she worked on some of the most globally recognized accounts including McDonald’s, Hallmark, 7-Up, Kellogg’s and Disney theme parks. Throughout her career, Patti brought a stunning wit, radiant smile, generous spirit, and rigorous acumen to everything she did. To observe the thriving culture of creativity she cultivated in both her professional and personal life was nothing short of spectacular. The twinkle in her eyes will continue to shine through her gifts of motherhood, friendship, and teaching. Her family and friends are forever touched by the unconditional love she had for them.

Survived by daughter, Emma Gregoline (Severin Bunse); sister, Kathryn Harney; cousins, Edward and Linda Korbel, Doug and Pam Korbel, William Lee and Pat Harney, Ruth Ann and Ralph Howard, Jr.; as well as countless lifelong friends. Preceded in death by her parents and dachshund, Mimi.

Memorial Service to be held at First-Plymouth Church, 2000 “D” Street, Lincoln, NE, to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) at pancan.org/donate, or through the mail at 1500 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.

Share a Memory or Condolence

May 16, 2022

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful, warm, witty and compassionate woman who left this world all too soon. But she leaves behind a legacy of family, friends, associates and students who were touched by her warmth, grace and love. I appreciated having her as a neighbor. My heart goes out to her family and the many who are missing her presence.

– Joyce Urbauer
May 15, 2022

Kathy and Emma, Our hearts are breaking, our minds can’t fathom the reality that the lovely person we knew as Patti, no longer pads about the earth. If it weren’t obvious before, “life’s not fair” has come to town. And yet, the lover of “broken plans” would show us the rainbow amid this darkness. Her lovely smile, her lilting laugh, her arched eyebrow when credulity was stretched, serve as beacons, guiding us through this grief. The hole in our hearts will get smaller, in time, but never, ever disappear. Patti, thank you for your love, your life, your inspiration. Adieu.

– jerome lacey

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