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Donald Cordes

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Donald Cordes Obituary
Donald Cordes

Des Moines

Donald Cordes died peacefully on April 22, 2014, at Kavanaugh House on 56th Street. Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m. Saturday April 26, 2014 at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, the family will greet friends after the funeral at the Church. Don was born December 31, 1917, the second of three children born to Theodore and Fannie (Osterloo) Cordes. Raised in the small town of German Valley, Illinois, (population 140) he was eager to expand his horizons. After graduating from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Harbor where he received his Master's Degree in Philosophy, intending to be a minister. However, he did not feel called to the ministry, choosing instead to help others through his work in hospital administration. While studying at Columbia University and working at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City, he met his wife Harriet Davies and brought her with him to Des Moines in 1947. From 1947 to 1983 he was the CEO of Iowa Methodist Medical Center, the longest tenured administrator in hospital history. During his tenure he doubled the bed capacity of the hospital, overseeing the construction of seven buildings including the current North and South wings, Younker Rehabilitation Center, Helen Powell Center, the main building of the current Blank Children's Hospital and the recently demolished school of nursing. He opened the first adult psychiatric unit in a community hospital and the first alcohol treatment center in the state. In addition he inaugurated the chaplaincy program, rehabilitation services and the poison control center and integrated the Des Moines Child Guidance Center with Blank Hospital, offering psychological services to children. He also spearheaded the affiliation of hospital schools of nursing in Des Moines with Drake University and a residency program for hospital administrators, serving as an Instructor and Assistant Professor of Health Care Administrators at Washington University in St. Louis and Preceptor of Graduate Programs in Hospital Administration at both Washington University and the University of Chicago. He was very helpful in the development and promotion of the Pastoral Counseling Center in Des Moines.

He was involved in several professional organizations including the Iowa Hospital Association, Upper Midwest Hospital Conference, the National Association of Methodist Hospitals and Homes and National League of Nursing. He was most proud of his Gold Medal Award of Excellence in Hospital Administration from the American College of Hospital Administrators and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Hospital Association. His papers have been collected and are currently located at the Center for Hospital and Healthcare Administration History in Chicago. When not working, he enjoyed bowling, golf, bridge, documentary films and his daily New York Times.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, brother Emerson (Bette) Cordes, sister Lucille (Charles) Starr, wife Harriet and daughter Beverly. He is survived by his daughter Karen Cordes (Bill Davis), his niece Cynthia (John)Helt who was by his side throughout his final days, and nephews Tim (Vicky) Cordes, Warren (Julie) Starr and Ray Starr.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Beverly Cordes Endowment or Unity Point Health Foundation.


Published in Des Moines Register from Apr. 24 to Apr. 26, 2014
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