Curt Hames, co-founder of Hames Homes and an active Iowa Republican, died Sunday night. He was 92.
Barbara Hames, his daughter, said her father was a “walking encyclopedia of the manufactured home industry” and “the most generous person I’ve ever known.” Although in his 90s, Hames didn’t want to leave the business, saying “retirement was for old people,” she recalled.
“Working kept his mind sharp, it kept him around people, and he also figured he’s got 40 years learning the business, why retire and let that go to waste,” said Barbara, the company’s president.
Born in Kansas and raised in Missouri, Curt Hames came to Eastern Iowa after retiring from the U.S. Army as a command sergeant in 1969.
Hames and his wife, Norma, started a mobile home dealer franchise in Marion soon after.
“Curt decided he wanted to be his own boss after being in the military hierarchy,” Barbara said.
The company — which the Hameses purchased in 1971 — is now three generations old, has sold more than 11,000 homes, runs a dealership and owns five mobile home parks.
“There aren’t any heroes here,” Curt Hames told The Gazette in 1998. “We’re all just ol’ workers down in the trenches, providing good people with good housing.”
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Eastern Iowans would recognize the Hameses in public from their TV commercials for “Hames — the Home People.”
Hames was active among Linn County and state Republicans, supporting Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and endorsing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the 2016 presidential race.
But Iowa Republican Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said Hames did more than just donate money. He would host meals — Kaufmann called them “GOP revival meetings” — during which he would build up new lawmakers.
“It was like a burst of energy when you walked away from one of Curt Hames’s dinners,” Kaufmann said.
Barbara said her father had been diagnosed with bladder cancer only two weeks ago. He died in hospice in Hiawatha.
“We’d really thought he’d make it to 100,” she said.
Curt Hames’s obituary and services information appear on page 11A.
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