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Former Iowa aviation director Michelle McEnany dies at 52

Michelle Fletcher McEnany
Michelle Fletcher McEnany

Friends and family of Cedar Rapids native Michelle Fletcher McEnany remember the former head of the state’s aviation department as incredibly smart and loved by all she came across.

McEnany, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation and the Office of Public Transit from 2000 through 2017, died Sunday at Taylor House Hospice in Des Moines. She was 52.

McEnany’s father, Robert Fletcher, described his daughter as the one you’d see surrounded by people at a party or social gathering.

“People were attracted to her. ... Anybody that met her enjoyed her sense of humor,” he said Friday.

“She had a talent I didn’t have. It seemed like everybody she met, everybody she worked for, liked her.”

McEnany was born July 7, 1966, in Cedar Rapids to Sondra and Robert Fletcher.

As a child, McEnany loved boating, water skiing and simply talking with people, Robert Fletcher recalled.

She graduated in 1984 from Washington High School and four years later from Boston College with economics and political science degrees. Soon after college, she returned to her home state, according to her obituary.

In 1991, she married Dennis McEnany. They had two children — Colby and Madison — before divorcing.

Robert Fletcher said her children found their mother open-minded and non-judgmental.

McEnany’s professional career began at Principal Financial, and she later moved to the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

In 2000, she became director of aviation for the Iowa DOT, where she received multiple awards for her work.

“Michelle had an unconditional commitment and dedication throughout the years, and she brought an energy and enthusiasm for aviation and transit to the Iowa DOT that still is evident in the great work being done in those areas,” Stuart Anderson, director of the Iowa DOT’s Planning, Programming and Modal Division, said in a post on the Iowa DOT website.

The post notes that McEnany helped develop safe, comprehensive and competitive aviation and transit systems across the state,

“Michelle brought a fresh perspective and contributed to the success of aviation in Iowa,” Anderson said in the post. “She was effective in her work with stakeholders at all levels, and in implementing reorganizational changes for the Office of Aviation.”

McEnany served as president of the National Association of State Aviation Directors and spent eight years volunteering as a member of the Polk County Conservation Board, including one year as board president.

She is survived by her children, parents and brother, Michael.

An inurnment at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery is planned for a later date.

McEnany’s family has asked that memorials be directed to a charity in Michelle’s name.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com