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Robert W Mickle


Posted By: Pat Frette (email)
Date: 3/4/2009 at 13:30:32

Robert W. Mickle, born February 12, 1925 to Mary Elizabeth (Clark) and Oren Franklin Mickle in Boone, Iowa, died at age 84, Sunday, March 1, 2009 at Wesley Community Hospice after a long and valiant fight to overcome CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) and Lymphoma. A graveside service with the burial to follow will be held at 11:00 A.M., Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at Linwood Park Cemetery in Boone. Rev. Jim Barnett will be officiating. Full Military Honors will be conducted at the graveside by the Boone Veterans Council and presentation of the United States Flag will be given by Senior Airman, Keaton Mickle. Visitation will be at Walter ~ Schroeder Funeral Home, 503 Story Street (Fifth & Story) in Boone from 4:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M., Tuesday, March 3, with the family receiving visitors from 6:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. An additional visitation will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday morning from 8:00 A.M. until 10:00 A.M.
A gathering of neighbors, friends and associates to celebrate Robert's life will be held Wednesday, March 4, from 4:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. at the Mickle Center, 1620 Center Street in Des Moines, Iowa in the heart of the Sherman Hill Historic District Neighborhood.
While a Boone Junior High and High School student, Robert attended the Marion Street Methodist Church and encountered Rev. John Tinker--whose children were years later to be two of the Roosevelt High School students who were expelled from high school for wearing black arm bands in protest of the Vietnam War which ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker vs. Des Moines Public School District upholding students free speech rights. With Robert's involvement in lively and wide ranging discussions with Pastor Tinker concerning the rising storm of war across Europe and the Far East, as well as his involvement in high school debate, his lifelong dream of peace began to evolve.
Robert graduated from Boone High School in June, 1943 and was drafted immediately into the U.S. Navy at the height of World War II. He served in the Pacific as an Aviation Ordnanceman (Bombsight). Seeing the very low rate of naval personnel returning from the bombing missions, Robert urgently responded to the mess hall notice regarding officer training possibilities. With the help of his father in securing his high school transcript and several local officials' letters of recommendation which proved crucial to his selection, Robert was selected for officer's training in the V-12 Unit stationed at Denison University, Granville, Ohio and University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. He returned stateside to learn the most valuable lesson of his lifetime while in officer training school from his Japanese Calculus Professor: "You are A student, you do B work. I give you D. Thank you and good day!"
In June, 1946 Robert was honorably discharged from the Navy and began Russian and Chinese studies at Columbia University. He became a member of the SDS (Students for Democratic Society) and subsequently gravitated to the study of Urban Planning and Zoning working in New York City and surrounding smaller municipalities for some 25 years. He returned to active duty during the Korean Conflict and served a total of 10 years in the Navy achieving the Navy rank of LTJG--Lieutenant Junior Grade.
Robert and Shirley Ann Darnley were married December, 1951 in Los Angeles, California and were blessed with five children and many years of marriage, child-rearing, and cross-country family road trips. During this time, in addition to his full time occupation as urban planner, Robert and Shirley with the able assistance of the four older children operated the last remaining active dairy farm in Westchester County, New York. Sons Gary and Ron milked to the rhythms of the Beatles' when they first arrived in New York. In 1965 Robert's father forwarded a Des Moines Register Want Ad announcing the search for an executive director for the newly-formed CIRALG (Central Iowa Regional Association of Local Governments). Robert returned with his family to Iowa to work for CIRALG with little more than a folding card table, a chair and a telephone. Subsequently he became the Planning Director for the City of Des Moines for some ten years during the time of the major urban renewal projects which changed the face of downtown Des Moines and saw the construction of the downtown Skywalk Bridges.
In 1980 during the City's acquisition of the land in Walnut Hill area just north of the MacVicor Freeway for the new DMACC Urban Campus Robert met Nelda Barrow Mickle, an attorney in the City's Legal Department. Nelda was assigned to work in the resolution of a dispute involving the Blood Center property in the Walnut Hill area and the renovation of the adjacent old fire station. To celebrate the saving of the fire station, they agreed to have a beer and talk. That conversation continued unabated until Robert's death! They were married in May, 1981 with many City Hall prognosticators giving the union at most three weeks.
Robert and Nelda quickly decided that it was not appropriate for them both to remain City administrative staff members because of the inevitable appearance of conflicts of interest. For a time Robert worked as a private consultant in urban planning matters, including work for the City of Norwalk and work on the concept planning for the Court Avenue area of downtown Des Moines. Robert embarked on the public service volunteer/citizen diplomacy phase of his professional life which extended from 1985 to the present. During this time there were extended periods of volunteer activities in the Des Moines Sister City of Shijiazhuang, China, Baoding and Hebei Province. Robert worked with local officials to meet the urgent public transit and public sanitation issues confronting the city as it rapidly expanded from a municipality of 300,000 to more than 3.8 million persons without sanitary or storm sewer capacity and with no wastewater treatment facility at all. For a time he also taught English language and American studies in a local college to grammar school teachers from the countryside.
In 1996 Robert began his concentrated citizen diplomacy efforts in Cherkasy, Ukraine. This was the time of the Orange Revolution and Ukraine's exercise of its independence from Russia and the birth of its fledgling democratic institutions. All his citizen diplomacy efforts were to bring to public attention and discourse the simple truth that we cannot have peace so long as any among do not have peace; that the democratic process must be fair; and that all must be allowed to participate and be heard.
As health issues began to demand longer periods of his time and energy, Robert focused on the many public finance issues pending before the City Council, Polk County Board of Supervisors, and the Des Moines School Board. He doggedly attended these public bodys' meetings with the always the mantra: "Don't spend more than you take in." He returned full circle to participate as a citizen member in the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) with regard to the major transportation and land use challenges facing the Des Moines Metropolitan area governments. Two of his proudest achievements were the landscaped underpass beneath Grand Avenue on ML King, Jr. Parkway and the arched bridges on I-235 and east leg of ML King. He fervently believed that aesthetics in public places were integral to the urban environment.
In 2002 and 2003 Robert joined with his Sherman Hill neighbors Jack Porter, Jack Hatch, and Dave Mowitz to find a use for the former Iowa Jewish Home care facility at 1620 Pleasant which would be supportive and compatible with the residential character of the neighborhood. The Neighborhood Investment Corporation (NIC) was created as a 50l (3) (c) non-profit corporation to provide educational, charitable and public service non-profits with office space. As a part of its agreement with Polk County to acquire the building, the lower floor is leased for ten years to the Pace Program of Orchard Place/the Des Moines Public Schools for the payment of prorated utility expense only.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents, his bud Bill, his beloved Grandpa Clark and Uncle Will, his tiny French Grandma Mickle, his Grandpa Mickle and all his many brothers (including Uncle Jocko who left for a pack of cigarettes and returned ten years later as if time had stood still), his brother-in-law Howard Darnley; and his mother-in-law and father-in-law Myrtle and Jack Darnley.
Robert is survived by the compass of his life, his wife Nelda; his seven children Gary Mickle of Boone; Ron (Char) Mickle of Concordia, Missouri; Cheryl Pearson of Palm Coast, Florida, Wendy (Kathy) Mickle of Woodward and Northern Prairie Chevre; Jeanne (Paul) Olson of Mt. Pleasant; Malcolm (Janel) Wells and Gregory (Helen) Wells of Des Moines; his sixteen grandchildren and his eleven great grandchildren; his former wife Shirley Mickle of Palm Coast; his sister-in-laws Joyce Mickle of Sherburn, Minnesota, Karen Wyrenbeck and Theresa Darnley of Palm Coast; and his cousins Bob Keefer of Des Moines and Jack Mickle of Boone.
The family would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to the nurses of Methodist Hospital Powell III and to Dr. Robert Shreck, his associates, and the staff of Medical Oncology who labored with such devotion and grace to assure that Robert could achieve the maximum recovery possible. For his brief stay at Wesley Community Hospice Robert was blessed with the tenderest and most attentative care that could be hoped for.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Des Moines Public Schools Edmunds Academy English Language Learner Program, the Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association or to the Mickle Center.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.walter-schroederfuneralhome.com Walter~ Schroeder Funeral Home at 503 Story Street (Fifth & Story) in Boone is in charge of the arrangements. Boone News Republican


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