Former U.S. Rep. John Y. McCollister, a three-term Nebraska Republican who defeated a sitting congressman to win office and later gave Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel his first Washington job, died Nov. 1 at an Omaha hospice. He was 92.
The cause was cancer, his son John S. McCollister said.
Mr. McCollister handed seven-term U.S. Rep. Glenn Cunningham the only electoral defeat of his career when he won the Republican nomination in 1970. Mr. McCollister went on to win the general election to represent the Omaha-based 2nd District.
Mr. McCollister hired Hagel as an aide while he was in Congress, and Hagel later credited Mr. McCollister with shaping many of his views and practices. During a March 2007 news conference, Hagel called Mr. McCollister the finest public servant he had ever known.
The congressman served six years in the House before deciding to run for the U.S. Senate in 1976. Omaha Mayor Ed Zorinsky switched to the Democratic party and beat Mr. McCollister in the general election.
John Yetter McCollister was born June 10, 1921, in Iowa City. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1943 and served in the Navy during World War II. He served as county commissioner in Douglas County, Neb., before his election to the House.
Before and after his political career, Mr. McCollister ran his family’s industrial lubricants business. He did community service work with organizations including the Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
— From staff and wire reports