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Longtime Neligh-Oakdale band teacher Nate Metschke succumbed to cancer on Monday evening after complications ensued during surgery to remove part of his liver. He was 40.
After an outpour of community grieving via social media, Metschke's wife, Darcy, said via Facebook, "My love goes right back out to you all. I don’t even quite know what to say. We have felt your love and your prayers nonstop. My world is turned upside down right now, but I know you’re all there for all of us, and I know you’re all hurting too because Nate was just that guy that loved everyone and brought joy to everyone he knew and even those he didn’t. I know he wouldn’t want everyone to be sad right now. He’d probably tell a pun just to make everyone smile. He’d just want you to share joy with others and share the love of our Lord and Savior. Thank you for all the prayers and messages we’ve received. They all mean so much. Please pray for a feeling of peace, as I’m just in shock right now. Pray for my kids. I’m going home to be with them tonight and to spend Christmas holding them tightly. Be with your families. Tell them you love them and squeeze them extra tight. I won’t be able to respond to everyone’s messages. But please know that I appreciate them all. "
Just last month, Metschke was honored for going above and beyond in the classroom as a Nebraska Loves Public Schools Touchdown for Teachers winner. Even a thick, grey stocking cap pulled down low on his forehead couldn’t hide the glimmer in Metschke’s eyes as he looked around Memorial Stadium that Saturday morning.
It was 10 a.m. The Huskers weren’t even on the field yet for their game against Michigan State, but the Neligh-Oakdale band director was there, wide-eyed and standing on Tom Osborne Field as he turned in a circle trying to take in the entire stadium.
“Isn’t this wild?” Metschke said as the Huskers ran out to begin warming up for their last home game of the season. “This is just incredible. It’s so much better than I ever imagined.”
Although the snow was starting to float down, Saturday was still Metschke’s moment to shine as one of four teachers honored before the football game. Metschke learned about two weeks prior that we was selected for going above and beyond in the classroom, but as for who nominated him, he still doesn’t know.
“It’s one of life’s mysteries, I guess,” he said. “I thought by now someone would tell me, but they haven’t. I’m very grateful they thought enough of me to do this and very humbled that they did. It was such a neat day and neat experience, so thank you to whomever nominated me.”
Two weeks ago Metschke directed the elementary, junior high and high school band during the annual Christmas program. It was there the sixth-graders surprised him with a blanket to take to the hospital during surgery. It bore the words "Neligh-Oakdale Warrior Band" on it, and the students thanked him for being the best band teacher they'd ever had.
The Antelope County News will release details of Metschke's memorial service when available.