Rest in peace, Gene Maddox

Former Iowa legislator Gene Maddox passed away on June 2 at the age of 76. He left a lasting mark on the city of Clive, where he served as mayor from 1977 to 1992. At the beginning of that period, Clive felt like more of a small town, complete with some gravel roads, than a thriving suburb of Des Moines. Now Clive has the third-highest per capita income among Iowa municipalities. The part of the city west of I-35, which was annexed during Maddox’s tenure, is the wealthiest precinct in Iowa.

Maddox was first elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 in an Iowa Senate district covering some suburban and rural areas west of Des Moines. Redistricting prompted him to run for an Iowa House seat in 2002. He represented Clive, Windsor Heights, and parts in West Des Moines in the lower chamber for two terms before retiring in 2006. Maddox was one of the last pro-choice Republicans to serve in the Iowa legislature. Not coincidentally, he was also one of the few Republicans for whom I have voted. Whenever I contacted him about an issue (as a constituent only–his legislative career predated my blogging), he was responsive and respectful, even when explaining why he had voted differently from how I would have hoped.  

I didn’t know Maddox well, but everyone I know who did has spoken highly of his character. He was a Republican but not a highly partisan one; he could work with Democratic colleagues. A friend who attended the memorial service yesterday said Maddox’s former legislative clerk told wonderful stories about her old boss. Apparently he interviewed her twice at length before finally asking her over the phone whether she was a Republican.  

Excerpts from Maddox’s obituary are after the jump. If you knew him through his political work or his volunteer service for non-profits including the Polk County March of Dimes, Polk County Cancer Society, and American Diabetes Association, feel free to share any memories or anecdotes in this thread.

From Gene Maddox’s obituary:

Following graduation he moved to Des Moines and became an associate of Brody, Parker, Roberts, Thoma & Harris law firm. In 1978 he joined Mid-Continent Industries and served as Vice President of Employee Relations, Secretary and General Counsel until 1978. He maintained a private law practice from 1978 to 2006.

Gene was elected to the Clive City Council in 1975, elected Mayor of Clive in 1977 and served until 1992. While Mayor, Gene championed the Clive Festival and the Clive Fun Run. During his terms as Mayor, Gene championed a number of intergovernmental activities, including the formation of the Mid Iowa Association of Local Governments (culminating in the periodic meeting of local government leaders [local mayors, county supervisors & others]). In 1996 he began serving as a State Senator and later as a State Representative until 2007.

Gene served on board of directors for Polk County March of Dimes, Polk County Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association (vice president), League of Iowa Municipalities (president 1987 – 88) and Iowa Jaycees (president 1968-69). In addition, Gene was a member of a number of other public service and professional groups including the American Bar Association, the Polk County Bar Association, the Des Moines Sertoma Club, Clive Lions Club, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Northwest Rotary Club, and was a member of Grace United Methodist Church. He also was an active volunteer reader for visually impaired persons on the IRIS radio network.

Memorial contributions may be given to the Des Moines Affiliate of the American Diabetes Association or to Camp Hertko Hollow in Gene’s name.

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  • His clerk was very good to him

    I don’t know that I have any great stories, but I have warm memories of her making him a snack of cheese and crackers in the afternoons in the Senate, to keep his blood sugar level.  It always made me smile, the way she took care of him.

    I always liked him, he was good-natured and good to work with (and a fellow alum of Northwestern Law).  

    I’ve been racking my brain to try to remember the details, but all I can remember is an incident 13-15 years ago where the moderate Rs in the Senate stood up against the rest of their party.  I can’t remember what the issue was.  But I remember Gene and Mary Lundby being a part of it.  Kept things at a standstill for awhile, as I remember.  Kind of admired that.