Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement, saying Nein was “one-of-a-kind. He was a tremendous advocate for Butler and Preble counties at the Statehouse where he worked with members of both parties to craft and pass legislation.”
Nein is survived by his wife of 48 years, Janis. She said they started dating as teenagers, then ended the relationship for a few years when they attended separate colleges. But they were destined to be married, she said.
“We just always clicked,” she said. “I loved him almost my whole life. I will miss his presence. It’s very hard not to have him around.”
She said her husband, whose political career spanned three decades, was “a very fair man” who always “looked for the better answer for the people.”
Butler County Auditor Nancy Nix served as Nein’s campaign treasurer for many years. She said he “loved Middletown” and his district. She had “great admiration and respect” for Nein, she said.
Mike Miller, CEO of Miller Insurance, said Nein was an insurance agent for him. Miller was close to all the boys in the Nein family.
“They couldn’t be much better,” he said. “He was very loyal, very honest.”
Nein began his political career in 1987 when he was elected to the Middletown Board of Education. He served as board president in 1990.
He then ran for an open seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. In 1995, during his third term, Nein was elected by his House colleagues as Assistant Majority Floor Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives.
Later in 1995 Nein was appointed by the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus to fill the balance of an unexpired term in the 4th Senate District (Butler and Preble counties). He was subsequently elected to two full terms, where he served as chairman of the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee. In 2004, as the most senior member of the Ohio Senate, Nein was confirmed as dean of the Ohio Senate.
His family said Nein may be best known for his sponsorship of Senate Bill 239 in the 121st General Assembly. He called it his “proudest moment” in the Ohio General Assembly. The bill made it a “crime to injure or cause the death of a fetus.”
Best known by Nein and others as the “Daly Bill,” the genesis of the legislation was a tragic automobile accident that claimed the life of Middletown’s Suzanne Daly and her near full term son. Almost immediately challenged by opponents of the legislation, the “Daly Bill” has been upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court as constitutional and stands as the law of Ohio.
In addition to politics, Nein served on the board of the Middletown Chamber of Commerce, member of the board of the Butler Unit of the American Cancer Society, president of the Middletown Area Independent Insurance Agents Association, president of the Middletown Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow.
At the conclusion of Nein’s political career in 2004, he was hired and served as president and CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Ohio, where he worked until his retirement in 2017.
Janis said community service was instilled in him by his late parents, Richard and Betty Lou Nein.
“He followed in their footsteps,” she said.
Besides his wife, he’s survived by his children, Jason Nein of Middletown, Courtney (Nathan) Smith of Columbus, Beckett Nein of Columbus and Brody (Christina) Nein of Middletown; grandchildren, Kiptyn, Peyton, Dylan and Daxton Scott Smith of Columbus; brothers, Rick (Barb) Nein of Middletown and Tom (Susan) Nein of Winchester, Ky.; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be 1 p.m. Sept. 1 at First Presbyterian Church, 2910 Central Ave., Middletown. The family will visit with friends following the service in the Community Room.