Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Political Mercury

A forceful Iowa icon



Arthur A. Neu, a son of Carroll’s longest-serving mayor who went on to a career in public service himself that included election as lieutenant governor of Iowa, died Jan. 2 from complications of pneumonia. He was 81.

Neu’s oldest son and law partner, A. Eric Neu, a Carroll County magistrate, said family was with Neu at the time of his death at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines where doctors had been treating Neu in the intensive care unit for nearly a month.

1933-2015 Arthur A. Neu

1933-2015 Arthur A. Neu

As much as any citizen in Carroll’s history, Arthur Neu earned a statewide reputation as a highly effective advocate for Iowa.

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Neu, a Republican, served as a state senator from 1967 to 1973 and as lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1979. He was mayor for the City of Carroll from 1982 to 1985, during which time he shepherded Des Moines Area Community College into the city.

“Art was a lovely man who put the interests of the people above all else,” said Michael Gartner, a close friend of Neu and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Des Moines. “He cared deeply about Iowa and Iowans. He was also delightfully witty and enormous fun to be with.”

Neu and Gartner, the chairman of the Iowa Cubs baseball team and a former Iowa newspaper owner and editor, met regularly for lunch to discuss Iowa politics and government.

Iowa’s political establishment began honoring Neu as news broke of his death.

“Iowa lost a dedicated public servant today with the passing of Art Neu,” Gov. Terry Branstad said. “I had the honor of succeeding Art as lieutenant governor of Iowa. Art’s passion for Carroll was always evident. He was a friend and confidant to many, an advocate for community involvement and volunteerism, and an integral part of ensuring that St. Anthony Regional Hospital and Nursing Home was positioned for the 21st century. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Former Gov. Robert Ray said Neu will be missed and remembered by many Iowans, not just for the offices he held, but for how long and well he served Iowans.

“As lieutenant governor he always gave me unvarnished advice usually with his great sense of humor,” Ray said. “Democrats and Republicans liked and respected Art, because he was principled, fair, modest, and willing to listen to others.  We need more people like Arthur Neu in public life in our communities, our state, and nation. Billie and I are sad because of Art’s loss, but we will smile whenever we think of him.”

Arthur A. Neu was born in Carroll on Feb. 9, 1933. He graduated from Carroll High School in 1951. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1955. He obtained a law degree in 1958 from Northwestern University and completed advanced legal training in taxation from Georgetown Law School in 1961.

Before returning to Carroll, he spent 3.5 years with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corp. He was admitted to the Iowa Bar in 1958. He was a member of the Iowa Board of Regents from 1978 to 1984. He was a member of the Iowa Board of Corrections, Carroll County Bar Association, Iowa State Bar Association and American Bar Association.

Locally, Neu, among a raft of other pursuits, was an active Carroll Rotarian and a leader with the Carroll Area Development Corporation.

One of Neu’s closest friends, former DMACC Carroll campus provost James Knott, a long-time educator, said Neu’s contributions to Carroll were enormous.

“He was an outstanding citizen of the community and the world,” Knott said.

St. Anthony chief executive Ed Smith, a former Carroll mayor, said Neu was talking with him right up until the end of his life about ideas to improve Carroll’s local government and commercial climate.

“He was a humble man with a very high intellect who was willing to share openly,” Smith said. “It’s a tremendous loss. At the same time, I’m grateful for all Art left. He’s an outstanding example of how all of us can be committed to the place we live in and make it a better place for all of us.”

Neu’s father, Arthur N. Neu, who became mayor of Carroll in 1934, was a key figure in city politics until his death in 1960, leading Carroll through the Depression, World War II and the post-war boom, making the decisions, with the help of others, that would lead to a major population increase and advancements with technology and city services. CV

Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.

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