In Memory

Paul Semrad

7/25/1950 – 4/4/2020

Retired Omaha Public Schools Administrator and Basketball Coach for Central High School. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anton and Irene; brother, Pat; father-in-law, Edward Kontos

He is survived by his wife, Jean; daughters, Kerri Murtaugh (Ryan), Cindi Brown (Mark) ; grandchildren: Tyler, Brock, Rease, Zach, Nick and Blake; sisters: Kathy Codr (Larry), Nancy Hoops (Bob), Barb Bagley (Dennis); mother-in-law, Norma Kontos; sister-in-law, Jane Presuhn (Randy); brother-in-law, Ken Kontos (Elaine); nieces and nephews

Controlled visitation following CDC guidelines Tuesday, April 7, 2020, from 4-7PM at West Center Chapel with online livestream viewing available at

Funeral Mass following CDC guidelines Wednesday, April 8, 2020, 10AM St. Gerald Catholic Church with online livestream viewing available at

Interment: Resurrection

Memorials are suggested to Central High School Foundation or St. Gerald Catholic Church

Former Omaha Central basketball coach Paul Semrad remembered as a 'class act'

By Stu Pospisil World-Herald staff writer


Paul Semrad walked away from coaching basketball at a relatively young age. But he stayed at Omaha Central for what he liked even more.


“I've got two young daughters and I've missed out on a lot of things with them. Also, over the years, basketball has taken more and more time,” Semrad said in 1985 when he stepped down at 34. “I've always considered myself a teacher first, and it's difficult to do a good job of both teaching and coaching.”

So after 11 seasons, five state tournament appearances, a then-state record 58-game winning streak and back-to-back state titles in 1983 and 1984, Semrad settled into the classroom. He was an assistant principal when he retired from the Omaha Public Schools in 2005 after 32 years at Central.

Semrad died Saturday at 69. Daughter Kerri Murtaugh said he was diagnosed about a year ago with esophageal cancer.

“He was not only my coach and mentor, he was my friend,” former Central star Jessica Haynes wrote on Twitter. “He was a great man. My heart goes out to the Semrad family.”

Steve Eubanks of OPS knew Semrad from when he was a young coach.

“Paul Semrad was a class act,” Eubanks posted on Twitter. “At Central High, his positive impact was significant. He was a tremendous coach, outstanding administrator, great colleague and exemplary family man.”

Murtaugh said her father was “always passionate” in his various involvements and made sure he was a role model and mentor for his students.

“He was an excellent communicator,” she said. “Whenever Cindi or I was struggling with a situation, we called Dad for guidance.”

Both daughters followed his career path through teaching and coaching to school administration in OPS. Kerri is the principal at Highland Elementary School. Cindi Brown is an elementary science supervisor.

“When I started coaching at Central, he dove into the softball piece and did some co-coaching with me,” Murtaugh said. “I remember that his office would be filled with the girls’ softball bags while they were in class and they’d pick them up before practice.

“Later he got to be in the stands with the grandkids. It was a different sort of participation for him.”

Semrad grew up in Prague, Nebraska, and graduated from Wahoo Neumann in 1968 and from Midland Lutheran in Fremont in 1973. He was Central’s first girls basketball coach and his career winning percentage was .750 (165-55). Three of his players are in the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame — Maurtice Ivy, Sheila Miller and Haynes.

He and his wife, Jean, were married for 48 years. Other survivors include sisters Kathy Codr, Nancy Hoops and Barb Bagley.

His funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Gerald Catholic Church will be streamed live at