John E. Tapscott



John E. Tapscott

01/23/1930 - 08/16/2017

John E. Tapscott of Des Moines passed on August 16, 2017, destination unknown.  He donated his earthly body to the Des Moines University Medical School.

 He is survived by his wife, Gaiana Hopkins-Tapscott, six children: Kate (Paul) Carroll, Sacramento, CA; Dr. Mark (Christine) Tapscott, San Diego, CA; Matthew (Denise) Tapscott, Decorah, IA; Luke Tapscott, Melissa Spaur and Patrick Tapscott all of Des Moines.  Nine grandchildren: Heather (Sherry Strausbaugh) Carroll, Livermore, CA; Adam (Jennifer) Carroll, Clive, IA; Dr. Ryan Tapscott, Chicago, IL; Taylor John Spaur, Brooklyn, NY; Stefanie (William) Carter, Cedar Falls, IA; Samantha Tapscott, Des Moines; Natalie and Noah Tapscott, Decorah, IA and Joel Tapscott, San Diego, CA.  Eight great-grandchildren, sister Margaret “Muggy” Starr of Des Moines; three sisters-in-law; one brother-in-law and 14 nieces and nephews, cousins and many friends  He was preceded in death by an infant son, John and infant daughter, Mary Margaret; parents Helen (Gooding) and Ralph Tapscott; sister and brother-in-law Mary and Charles Dunn; his former wife and mother of his children Verlene Quail Faller; foster son Delbert Atkins and great-granddaughter Kenley Jane Carter.

 John was a graduate of Dowling High School and American Institute of Business. Among his many roles, he has been a salesman, real estate and insurance agent; he auctioneered and operated a number of wholesale and retail businesses.  

 He was a certified substance abuse counselor at Broadlawns Hospital until he was appointed Director of the Des Moines Area National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies (known today as Employee and Family Resources.)   In 1975 he started the Employee and Student Assistance Program evaluation center for alcohol, drug and mental health services.  He served as Director until his retirement in 1995.

He was an active life-long civil and human rights advocate.  He first  protested with Edna Griffin at Katz Drug in Des Moines for their refusal to serve African Americans at their lunch counter.  He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez;in  numerous local and state protests   working tirelessly for rights and equal treatment for everyone.

He worked for the election of John F. Kennedy for President and served three years as the assistant to the Regional Director US Post Office under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

In 1966, he was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives for two terms and then the Iowa Senate until 1972 when he ran for Governor on the Democratic ticket and was defeated in the primary. He  also worked on campaigns of presidential candidates Shirley Chisholm, Adlai Stevenson, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

In retirement, John published two books, RANDOM THOUGHTS and REFLECTIONS OF A ONE-WINGED PAGAN ANGEL.  For the last 15 years he was a volunteer advocate for residents of nursing home care facilities and supporter of increased pay for  Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) ; as a member of Compassion and Choices, he work to support end-of-life choices legislation.  John was a free-thinking socialist to the end.

.We will remember his many quotes and share a few of his favorites here:

“Question everything, then do the right thing.”

“Live simply so that others may simply live.”

“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“It is what we learn after we know it all that counts.”

His family thanks Dr. Richard Gloor who worked with the team from HCI Hospice Care Services: nurse Cindy Fignolio; massage therapist Connie Wood; social worker Mary Jo McClain; CNA Hailey Risius and all the  HCI  team members for their care, concern and support that allowed John to remain at home until his death.

Contributions may be made to HCI Hospice Care Services, Food Bank of Central Iowa or ChildServe.  Please honor his memory by living one of the many values he held deeply – visit with a friend (or make a new one) confined at home, in the hospital or in a care facility.



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