People of Rotary | John Gessert

John Gessert
A Man of Gentle Action
By Randy Bretz
A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.
That quote by William Hazlitt, a 19th Century literary critic, jumped out at me as I sat staring at my computer screen trying to think of a way to describe John Gessert, President of Rotary 14 in 2022-23. Gessert is a man who with a gentle word can influence a major decision. He’s a man who always has a kind look on his face no matter if he’s struggling with an issue or suggesting that you change your direction in life. And, when you catch a glimpse of him across the room, you’ll be impacted by his good-natured smile as he’s listening intently to what’s happening.
John Gessert is Vice President and Senior Trust Officer at Union Bank and Trust. He’s been with the bank since 2014. More importantly, he’s the husband of Suzie, whom he met in law school, and the father of Gretta and Ingrid, both of whom are pursuing higher education. Then there’s the way he serves the community by being involved in the Chrons & Colitis Foundation, The United Way of Lincoln and Lancaster County Cabinet, the Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Nebraska Council on Economics Education. He’s an Omaha native surrounded by a family of biochemists, but he studied finance and law which led him to his current position. And in each case you’ll find him sharing that gentle word, giving a kind look and always . . . always with that gentle smile that Hazlitt noted.
But, what Hazlitt’s quote doesn’t tell you about is John’s hobby as a musician. It started in high school and for 45 years he’s been pounding drums. He regularly plays with Prairie Psycho, a group of Wesleyan professors, he pulls a gig now and then with Floating Opera which has done drum tracks for some albums, and when the Rotary 14 band is on the stage, you’ll find him striking the beat as we all tap our toes to the music.
So, let’s talk about Rotary. He’s been a member of Rotary 14 since 2009. He served on the High School Scholarship committee, as Treasurer for the cub for 3 years and on the Project and Grant Evaluation Committee for several years. “I’m especially proud of the more than $150,000 we’ve given in scholarships helping a deserving high school student pursue higher education. And I’m proud that Rotary 14 is the largest service club in Lincoln and across Nebraska.” One thing John noted as we talked is how Rotary unites people under a common umbrella of friendship and service which helps them accomplish a great deal more than they could separately.
As Club President, John pledges to focus on building momentum as we stay on the path of service above self, membership growth, engagement with one another and in the community, some programs on financial literacy and (here’ where you stand up and applaud) reactivating the Rotary Band.
Look for an enjoyable yet busy year of significant accomplishments as the man with the gentle word, the kind look and that good-natured smile . . . John Gessert takes the podium and leads Rotary 14 into the future.