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Alexander, Archie A


Posted By: Deborah Barker (email)
Date: 2/13/2017 at 11:13:27

Archie A Alexander, 69; widely known for his engineering talents and as a recent governor of the Virgin Islands, died of a heart attack at his home, 2200 Chautauqua parkway.
He had been in ill health for 2 years, and recently had surgery.
He was an architectural engineer and contractor, headed the construction firm of Alexander & Repass, which maintained offices in Des Moines and in Washington, D.C.
Mr Alexander was appointed by President Eisenhower as governor of the Virgin Islands in 1954. He had been one of the early Eisenhower supporters in Iowa.
When appearing before the US Senate interior committee after his nomination, said he became interested in the islands after his construction firm bid on several projects there. He said he and his wife spent several winters there and that he was able to become generally familiar with the islands economic problems.
The blunt – speaking Alexander soon ran into a lot of criticism, and his Republican and Democrat critics launched a campaign for his removal. Mr Alexander blamed “a hostile legislature.” Charges included that he had ignored local men in choosing department heads and advisers and that he shut down the legislature by vetoing a $62, 000 appropriation for legislative expenses.
The then Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay, who had picked Mr Alexander for the post, praised him as having done “an excellent job.”
Mr Alexander resigned Aug. 18, 1955, because of failing health in the midst of a house investigation into the handling of a contract for construction of a waterfront roadway on the island of St Thomas.
A firm composed of some of Alexanders former business associates was low bidder, but the bid and that of another contractor were rejected. Mr Alexander said he was “the Initiator of that rejection” and denied any improper actions by his office.
Mr Alexander was born at Ottumwa, the son of Price and Ma y Alexander, in 1899, his family moved to Des Moines. He attended Oak Part grammar school, the old Oak Park High School, and for a year the old Highland Park College.
He then went to the State University of Iowa, worked his way through the engineering college and won his letter for three years as a tackle of the Iowa Football teams of 1910-12.
After working two years as foreman of a bridge construction firm, Mr Alexander went into business for himself here. From 1917 until 1925 his partner was George F Hughes, building sewers, bridges and viaducts over Iowa, the largest being the South Des Moines sewer system.
After Mr Higbees death, he continued in business by himself until 1929, when he became associated with M A Repass, former residents of Exira and Dexter. They had played football together at Iowa.
Among their construction projects in Washington, D.C., was a 3 million dollar freeway along the Potomac river and a million dollar bridge across one end of the famous Cherry Tree tidal basin.
After his resignation as governor of the Virgin Islands, Mr Alexander resumed his activities with the Alexander-Repass Co., and two of the first jobs were to build a water reservoir at Washington and widen the Francis Scott Key bridge.
In 1928, Mr Alexander was awarded the Harmon Medal as the second most successful Negro in American business.
Surviving was his wife Audrey a Lindzy, to whom he was married in 1913; five sisters, Mrs Harriett Hawkins, Mrs Helen Lee, both of Chicago. Mrs Colleen Jones, Blue Island, Ill., Mrs Doris Thompson, Philedelphia, Penn., and Mrs Edna Pinkard, New York, NY. And a brother Harold Alexander, St Louis, MO.

Des Moines Register Sun. Jan 5, 1958


Wapello Biographies maintained by Deborah Lynne Barker.
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