John J. Kamerick
1919 - 2015
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John J. Kamerick


Dr. John J. Kamerick died April 13 at the age of 95. A funeral mass will be celebrated for him at the Church of the Incarnation in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. A viewing will be held on Friday, April 17, from 11 a.m. 1 p.m. at Toale Brothers Funeral Home in Sarasota, 40 N. Orange Ave.

He was a loving husband, beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather, and passed peacefully surrounded by his five surviving children in Sarasota, Fla., his home since 1986.

Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, Dr. Kamerick received his bachelor's degree from St. Ambrose University, and his Master's degree and Ph.D from the University of Iowa, as well as honorary doctorates from Loras College and St. Ambrose University.

Dr. Kamerick was president and professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa from 1970 to 1986. Under his administration, the Communications/Art Center, Schindler Education Center, Industrial Technology Center, Physical Education Center, and the UNI-Dome were constructed. Upon retirement from UNI, the Kamericks were honored by having their name placed on a new building, the Kamerick Art Center. A fellowship was established in his name for students pursuing doctorate of education degrees at UNI.

Earlier he held the presidency at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where he instituted reforms such as more faculty governance, courses in African-American history and culture, and promoting the establishment of a chapter of the NAACP, all of which were highlighted in a lengthy profile in the Wall Street Journal. Prior to that he served as academic vice president and provost at Kent State University.

Among his memberships he served as chairman of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and President of the Iowa College Association. His biography was carried in Who's Who in America for more than 25 years. He was also a Distinguished Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America.

A veteran of World War II, Dr. Kamerick served to Lieutenant (senior grade) on a destroyer/minesweeper, the USS Hogan. He took part in six invasions and survived Kamikaze attacks in the Sulu, South and North China Seas, but he relished telling the story of how his ship was finally damaged: An American pilot dropping his bombs before returning to his ship dropped one near the Hogan, blowing a hole in its side, necessitating the ship's return to the U.S. for repairs. Kamerick received the Victory Medal and one Battle Star for the Philippine Liberation, and six Battle Stars for the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Dr. Sheila Kamerick, who held a Ph.D in history. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, as well as his son, Michael, consultant and entrepreneur in healthcare research; his daughters, Eileen, SVP/CFO of Inc. in Tampa; Kathleen, Ph.D and faculty member with the history department at the University of Iowa; Maureen, textile artist and entrepreneur in Newark, DE.; Megan, independent journalist and producer with New Mexico PBS in Albuquerque; his four grandchildren, Clare, Colleen, Connor and Matthew, and his great-grandchildren, Genevieve and Julian.

Memorial donations may be directed to: Incarnation School in Sarasota; Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota; St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa; and to the John J. Kamerick Fellowship at the University of Northern Iowa.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in the Des Moines Register on Apr. 16, 2015.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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7 entries
September 13, 2015
Elaine and family, I don't know if you will remember me but I not only attended NTSU under Dr. Kamerick's tenure but also followed him to UNI to do a masters program. Whenever anyone asks me why I went to UNI, I always tell them it was because of the leadership on John Kamerick. He was not only a leader but a mentor and a friend to me. I am sorry to hear of his loss. I may not remember a lot about my college years, especially given the times, but Dr. Kamerick will never be forgotten in my mind.
Dr. Maury Forman
NTSU 1968-1972
UNI 1972-1973
maury forman
April 20, 2015
Eileen, I was sorry to hear about your father's passing. My prayers are with you and the entire Kamerick family.
Eileen Antonelli
April 19, 2015
Haydee and I want to extend our condolences on behalf of the McCarville branch of the family. My mother, Evelyn Exceen McCarville always talked so fondly of John and the Kamericks that it became a gift for us to meet with him and you on our vacation a couple of years ago. You both inspire us. I know he was so proud of his family. It was wonderful his children could be with you.
James McCarville
April 18, 2015
I will always remember Dr.Kamerick as a friend. I was a student and member of the Union Activities Board at the University of Northern Iowa. We decided to give students and faculty an opportunity to talk with Dr. Kamerick every Tuesday in the Union. I became the host for "Coffee with Kamerick". Some days there was much controversy, but some days it was quiet and I would enjoy conversation with a very interesting and kind man. At my graduation on a very windy afternoon in O.R.Latham stadium in 1974, he took time to shake hands and have one last conversation as he wished me well in my future.
My sympathies to the Kamerick family.
Jeannette Fredericks-Weber
April 16, 2015
Elaine and family.
Don and I want to extend our condolences as we have learned of John's passing. We have many fond memories of both of you from our mutual time at UNI. We liked John very much. Elaine we remember our cooking for Gourmet Dinners and the short time we were in Tuesday Club together. John was a kind good man and we were proud to be at UNI during his presidency.
Jo Ann Schmits
April 16, 2015
My sincere condolences to the Kamerick family. I worked for Dr. Kamerick at Kent State University from 1967-1970. He was a true and compassionate gentleman and a wonderful boss.
April 16, 2015
For Elaine and John's family, I had the distinct pleasure and honor to be in faculty governance during John's time as President of the University of Northern Iowa. There were many strained times between administration and faculty, but John had dignity in working through it all with us. Here is one amusing story for you: John entered the Board room where the University Faculty Senate was discussing some knotty issue. Everyone fell still as John walked the length of the room to the head of the table and whispered something to me (as Faculty Senate chair). I nodded "no" and he walked all the way back again and left the room. The Senate was buzzing--"What had the President asked the Chair?" "Why had she said No?" "How does this affect our problem?" I said nothing about it until after the meeting adjourned. John had whispered: "I was just here in another meeting and can't locate my eyeglasses case. Did you find it?" I have treasured that incident from the 1970s to this day and beyond. My deep sympathy to you all.
Judith Harrington
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