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Melvin (Dan) Rockwell

Cedar Rapids

Dan Rockwell, 75, died Saturday, March 31, 2018, at Meadowview Memory Care, Cedar Rapids. His family surrounded him during his last days. He eased into peace early Saturday morning. Alzheimer's claimed the life of this beloved man. Dan's once long, purposeful strides signified who he was and his way of being: a person of unstinting and deep commitment to those he loved, his profession and being of service to others.
Dan was born July 21, 1942, in Broken Bow, Neb., the only son of Melvin and Ruby (Olsen) Rockwell. He was a graduate of Broken Bow High School (1960), Nebraska State College at Kearney (1965), and received a master's in environmental engineering, University of Iowa, Iowa City (1970).
Dan worked for more than 30 years in the city of Cedar Rapids Water Pollution Control Department, where he started as a lab tech in 1966. As assistant director and then director of the department, Dan provided leadership in his field by applying his knowledge of computers, biology and engineering to the task of water quality. He won a number of water pollution control awards at the national and state levels, and received recognition by the Renaissance Group, Cedar Rapids, for his dedicated work during the 1993 floods. He took only two years away from his work in Cedar Rapids; a year (1969-1970) to finish his master's degree at the University of Iowa and another year (1978-1979) to work for the Metro Area Utilities Council in St. Paul, Minn. Following retirement from the city of Cedar Rapids on March 31, 1999, Dan continued serving as a water pollution control consultant for several years.
Dan served in leadership positions for decades on the Arc of East Central Iowa board of directors and its foundation board. He was ardent about providing caring guardianship for people with special needs. Dan was elected and served several terms on the Linn County Extension Council. He became a Master Gardener and inaugurated a master composting program. Dan was an ardent gardener who nurtured vast plantings of flowers, vegetables, a heritage apple orchard, acres of prairie and a wide variety of trees. Dan, a quiet man, frequently surprised us with his strategic strikes of humor. He enjoyed reading, fishing, history, genealogy, astronomy, beekeeping, biking, traveling and classical music (but also classics like "City of New Orleans"), and being at home. In his later years, Dan engaged in theological study, mission work in Swaziland, and deeply appreciated the caring community of Christ Episcopal Church, Cedar Rapids.
Dan and Melody Neustrom were married in Central City, Neb., on June 6, 1964, and lived most of their 53 years of marriage and raised their family in the Cedar Rapids area. In addition to his wife, Melody, Dan is survived by his son, Jess (Jennifer) Rockwell, Cedar Rapids; his daughter, Rachel Rockwell, Arusha, Tanzania; grandchildren, Robert, Meagan (Heath), Jonathon, Ellie and Raman; great-grandchildren, Martrez, LaNaya, JayCeon and Tobin Grace; and his sister, Jo (Chris) Johannsen, West Lafayette, Ind.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Melvin and Ruby; daughter, Elizabeth; and sister, Jean.
Visitation will be held at Cedar Memorial on Thursday, April 5, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday, April 6, at 11 a.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, Cedar Rapids, with Bishop Alan Scarfe and the Rev. Canon Kathleen Milligan officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Dan's honor may be given to the Arc of East Central Iowa and Christ Episcopal Church, Cedar Rapids. Online condolences may be left at www.cedarmemorial.com under obituaries.