Elaine Kamerick, lifelong Democrat and passionate liberal, who was looking forward to voting for Joe Biden in the presidential election, was called home before she could cast her ballot. She died Sept. 23, 2020, at the age of 94. A Funeral Mass and burial will be held at a future date in Sarasota,
Fla. Elaine was a loving wife, beloved
mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She passed peacefully in her own bed at Legacy Senior Living in Iowa City, where she had lived since June 2018.
She was born Elaine Lenney in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1926. She attended St. Augustine Academy and spent many happy summers in Girard, Ohio, with her
mother's extended family, the Dillons, and also recalled playing with the children of film mogul Jack Warner when her parents moved to Akron. She graduated from high school on D-Day, June 6, 1944 and that summer worked at a laboratory operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (forerunner to NASA) at Hopkins Airport where researchers were conducting test flights on the B-29 Superfortress bombers to enable them to reach altitudes Japanese defenders could not reach. It was a time she remembered fondly when she described climbing into the cockpits of the giant planes to take readings.
Elaine graduated from the University of Iowa in 1948. At Iowa, she was a member of the Tri Delta sorority. She majored in speech and was an accomplished debater. She was mentored by Prof. A. Craig Baird, about whom she often spoke fondly. She was also president of the University Women's Association and chaired the Information First lecture series, which brought important speakers to campus, whom Elaine often interviewed at radio station WSUI, where she was a host.
She also met her husband, John Kamerick, at Iowa, who had returned from service in the U.S. Navy and was pursuing a Ph.D. in history. They married in 1948 in Cleveland and lived in Iowa City where their first child, Maureen, was born.
Elaine and John subsequently lived in Davenport, Iowa; Lockport, Ill.; Kent, Ohio; and Denton, Texas, where John served as president of what was then North Texas State. They moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1970, where John served as president of the University of Northern Iowa until 1983.
During her time in Texas and in Cedar Falls, Elaine had substantial duties as the wife of a university president. But also found time for volunteer work, including teaching young people with developmental disabilities at Goodwill Industries.
Elaine also was a student of the Irish literary renaissance and did work towards a master's degree in English. She also was a lover of Italian art, particularly Piero della Francesca. During the Vietnam War, she was involved in Another Mother For Peace, one of many social justice causes she and John participated in throughout their lives.
John and Elaine retired to Sarasota, Fla., in 1986, where they had a full and enjoyable life in retirement, traveling several times to Europe and also engaging in the Sarasota community. That included volunteering on the peace and justice committee at their parish, Church of the Incarnation, which was indicative of their commitment to the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church. She always was ready to welcome others into the family circle and make them feel at home, including numerous cats and dogs.
Elaine was a lifelong student of suffragist history and was also active in the League of Women Voters throughout her life. She also served on the Sarasota County Commissioner's Advisory Board, Public Facilities, Financing Advisory Board, where she often noted with chagrin that she was the only woman. Her work inspired her daughters to be lifelong feminists and pursue their own careers, even though she was born at a time when it was nearly impossible for women to have a family and a career.
Elaine was preceded in death by her husband, John Kamerick, who passed in 2015 in Sarasota; and her daughter, Sheila Kamerick, who held a Ph.D. in history. She returned to Iowa City in 2018 to be near her daughter, Kathleen, and enjoyed seeing her old stomping grounds again. She also was very appreciative of the care she received from the staff at Legacy Senior Living.
She is survived by her daughters, Eileen, a former CFO and current corporate director in Sarasota, Fla.; Kathleen, a retired lecturer in history at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City; Maureen, a textile artist and entrepreneur in Newark, Del.; Megan, host with KUNM-FM radio and correspondent with New Mexico PBS in Albuquerque; her son, Michael, who is a consultant in health care research in San Anselmo, Calif.; her four grandchildren Clare, Colleen, Connor and Matthew; her great-grandchildren, Genevieve, Julian and Felicity; and Elaine's sister, Carolyn McGavin of Sugar Grove, ll.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Special Olympics, Iowa City Hospice and Iowa City Catholic Worker. To share a thought, memory or condolence with her family, please visit the funeral home website at www.gayandciha.com.