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Jack E. McCoy

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Jack E. McCoy In Memoriam
Jack E. McCoy

05/28/1929 - 12/29/2014

Jack E McCoy, formerly of Council Bluffs, passed away December 29 at the South Miami Hospital in Miami, Florida. Jack was born May 28, 1929 in Ottumwa, Iowa. In 1947, while serving in the US Army, he earned his diploma from Ottumwa High School and later attended classes at both Iowa State University in Ames and at Parsons College formerly in Fairfield, Iowa. Jack was united in marriage to Gerada May Talbott on June 23, 1950. In 1974, Jack, of his own labor and design, built a house on a hillside along Highway 92 East of Council Bluffs where he and Gerada would make a home of 40 years for their 8 children, and 27 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Jack, motivated to end injustices that he and co-workers experienced as employees of an Ottumwa meat packing plant, joined the United Packing House Workers Local 1 and McCoy served as the Secretary of that Local for two years. Jack's service to the union led him to conclude that safe working conditions and fair wages would not be possible through endless strife between the labor force and management, but rather, political action was required to effectuate laws that would improve the economic conditions and health of the working class. Jack was elected in 1954 to the Iowa House of Representatives at the age of 25 and as the first Democrat to ever have been elected to the Iowa House from Wapello County. And, at the time, he was the youngest person ever to be elected to the Iowa House from any district. Once elected, Jack was re-elected and served two terms. He became a passionate and committed voice for the working man. Jack was instrumental in the 1955 merger of the American Federation of Labor ( "AFL") with the Congress of Industrial Organizations ("CIO") and thereafter served as the Vice President of the Iowa State AFL-CIO. It is while serving in the Iowa House that Jack accomplished his most enduring legacy to the State of Iowa: the passage of the 1955 legislation that created the dams of Saylorville and Red Rock, Iowa's recreational treasures that hold the Des Moines River within its banks year after year keeping hundreds of thousands of Iowans safe from the devastation of the flooding that ravaged central and southern regions of Iowa before the dams were placed. His political savvy was not overlooked by the political regimes of Iowa of that day. Jack was tapped in 1956 to lead the gubernatorial campaign of Herschel Loveless, who was then the Mayor of Ottumwa. Loveless defeated Governor Hoegh in an unexpected victory. In 1959, Jack was named vice president of the Iowa Federation of Labor and concurrently organized campaign activity throughout Iowa for the young Presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy. As a result of the labor movement successes in Iowa and those of John F. Kennedy, achieved in no small measure by McCoy's political savvy, then AFL-CIO President George Meany named Jack McCoy to the national AFL-CIO staff in 1962. McCoy served as one of seven regional directors of political education for the AFL-CIO, a position he held for the next 25 years. In that role, Jack took an active role in the organization and planning of numerous state and national political campaigns while never losing site that his was a voice for the working man. He was primarily responsible for political operations in the Rocky Mountain states, which were, with but one or two exceptions, predominantly Blue States throughout his work there. He retired from the AFL-CIO in 1987. Jack remained involved in both the Pottawattamie County and Iowa Democratic Party until moving to Florida earlier in 2014. Jack was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and of the American Legion.

Jack is survived by his wife of 64 years Gerada, of Coral Gables, Florida and their eight children; sons Micheal McCoy, Treasure Island, Florida; Fred McCoy, Lincoln, Nebraska; Jim McCoy (Jeannie), Omaha , Nebraska; Timothy McCoy (Christine), Council Bluffs, Iowa; Jack McCoy (Lisa), La Grange, Illinois; daughters Linda Pira, Council Bluffs, Iowa; Betsy McCoy (John Pallot), Coral Gables, Florida; Joy McCoy Schmelzer (Kurt), Minnetrista, Minnesota; 17 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; a brother, Robert (Martha) McCoy of Minnetonka, Minn.; a sister, Shirley Jean (Duane) Shultz of Minnetonka, Minn.; two sisters-in-law, Lavonne McCoy of Hedrick, Iowa and Alma Carr of Tucson, Ariz.; a brother-in-law, Jerry Talbott of Indianola, Iowa; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Violet McCoy, and his brother, Frank McCoy.

Services for Jack McCoy will be Saturday at 9 am Cutler-O'Neill-Meyer-Woodring at the Bayliss Park Chapel, 545 Willow Avenue, Council Bluffs, IA 51503, followed by a brief graveside service at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Council Bluffs. The graveside service will be followed by a luncheon reception at the reception hall that is located at Walnut Hill Cemetery. The family will receive visitation on Friday, January 2, 2015 at the funeral home from 5 pm to 7 pm. As memorials in honor of Jack, the family suggests: State Historical Society of Iowa 402 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa 52240 or First Christian Church of Council Bluffs, 20794 Highway 92, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51502.

Published in Des Moines Register on Jan. 1, 2015
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