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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 20, 2014

Robert M. Nady

May 29, 2013

Robert M. Nady, 88, died Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, Iowa, with loving family at his bedside. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 15 at Memorial Lutheran Church, 701 11th St., in Nevada, Iowa, with his Pastor, Scott Milsom, officiating.

Robert was born March 18, 1925, in Fairfield, Iowa, the second of four children born to Leo Louis Nady and Marion Elizabeth McElhinny Nady.

Everyone has core values that are based upon how their life was guided and shaped from infancy to maturation. Robert lived his life based on his core values which included: a belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ, patriotism for his country (he believed it was the greatest country ever conceived and built by mankind), ethics of right and wrong (maternal grandfather was an active Presbyterian minister), the need for philanthropy, and the need for a strong educational foundation available to all.

Along with these values that he held fast to; throughout his life there were certain themes or interests that appeared and reappeared many times.

THERE WAS MUSIC: As an excellent clarinet player he played first chair in the Fairfield High School band. In high school he discovered that playing with a dance band on Saturday nights was more fun and profitable than working at the ice factory in Fairfield where he had worked summers. The music he most enjoyed overall was jazz, be it Dave Brubeck, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, or Bach, the inventor of jazz. Even during the last three months in various medical facilities; sounds of jazz could be heard drifting out into the hallways from his room.

After graduating in 1942 from Fairfield High School he immediately enrolled in Iowa State College (as it was named in those years) in Ames, Iowa. During his second semester of classes, though he was 16 days short of being 18, he chose and was allowed to enlist in the US Army on March 2, 1943.

While he served as a sergeant in Company A, 1245 Engineer Combat Battalion in campaigns in the Rhineland and Central Europe, upon reading his Honorable Discharge papers recently, line 30 under the heading of Military Occupational Specialty, we discovered his number as Bandsman Saxophone 439. Directly opposite, on line 31, under the heading of Military Qualifications, MM Carbine and MM Rifle were listed. His interest in music was forever, but interest in guns, gone.

When the European Theater of war was over he was assigned to process prisoner of war personnel. While doing that he was also assigned to specialty operations as a musician bandsman, (Bandsman Saxophone 439), and assigned to a band that played at various officers’ clubs until he was honorably discharged at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, April 17, 1946. After the war, Robert returned to the College of Engineering at Iowa State and earned his BS in Civil in Civil Engineering in August 1949. He played alto, tenor, and baritone sax and flute in area dance bands, notably Bob Allen’s, until the late 50’s.

In the fall of 1948 he met Margaret Dutton, daughter of Orson B. and Irene S. Dutton, a student at Iowa State. After his August graduation they were married at Arnold’s Park, Iowa, on September 1, 1949. Shortly after marrying, they moved to Des Moines and enrolled at Drake University for the fall semester of 1949; Robert majoring in music and Margaret continuing in English Literature. After completing one semester they moved back to Nevada, Iowa, awaiting the birth of their first child. After a few months of working for the Iowa Highway Commission (now the Iowa DOT) in Ames, he was informed that he could continue working part-time and enroll in the College of Engineering to start studying on a graduate degree at Iowa State.

In 1952, he completed his thesis on bituminous and soil engineering and received his Master of Science degree. He was always grateful that IDOT allowed him to work part-time in their offices while attending graduate school.

Upon receiving his MS degree, he joined the faculty of the College of Engineering at Iowa State and shortly thereafter passed the licensure exam and became a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE).

THERE WAS TEACHING: As an assistant professor, with each group of new students in his classroom, it became so important to him to make sure that each student was provided a solid basis and a good, sound understanding of what was being taught and studied in the classroom and laboratory as it applied to not only class work but “real world” engineering situations.

In 1965, while on the ISU faculty, he applied for a 10-week leave of absence to join a summer project, working with technical schools in Calcutta, India. The project involved visiting the schools and observing and working with the teaching methods, curriculum, and administrative and teaching staff. Margaret joined him there for the last month. They both were smitten with India; the country, and its people. They returned to the U.S. hoping to return to India some day.

In early 1966, an 18-month cooperative project, sponsored and set up by the U.S.A.I.D. in partnership with the Indian government was formed. The U.S. was to provide a team drawn from several universities throughout the U.S. to work with the technical institutes that had been built in various Indian states. Visiting specialists from the U.S. would help teach and share experiences and advice from the U.S.; in turn, Indian experts would share their knowledge of successful emerging technology that was being taught in India’s technical schools. The project would be headquartered in New Delhi. Robert was informed about the project, and to merely say that he was very interested would be an understatement. He applied for a leave of absence to participate in the project, and it was granted.

Robert arrived in New Delhi several months before his family could join him at the end of the Nevada school year. He arranged housing, schooling, etc., that would be needed upon their arrival. Robert’s role in the project was working with construction education personnel at the various Institutes that involved half of the time that was termed “out of station” and half in project headquarter offices. Since they were on the metric system, he taught in metric.

In June, Margaret and their three children moved to India; visiting Italy, Greece, and Egypt on the way. The children were enrolled in the American International School in grades 1, 7, and 11. They were as enamored and enjoyed India as much as their parents, especially since their allowances were in Rupees, and the legal rate of exchange was seven to one U.S. dollar.

In the fall of 1967 he returned to Iowa State. A new Technology Institute had been organized, and he was appointed and earned tenure as an associate professor, teaching soils, asphalt and concrete mix design, and various other aspects of paving construction. The institute was eagerly accepted by industry and consisted of a two-year comprehensive and intensive program. Students were anxious to participate.

In 1973, the university decided that the Technology Institute, citing among other reasons those of economy, could be replaced by the Iowa Community College system. Therefore, the program was disbanded.

Robert had finished his 20th year of teaching. He decided that he should devote his time and effort to the small quality control laboratory/company that he had formed a few years earlier. Nady Engineering Service was a construction materials testing and consulting lab involved with all aspects of road building, from design of materials and pavement profile to testing for smoothness after placement. Anything that was built upon soil usually needed soil compaction tests for strength. He worked with public and private clients on Portland Cement Concrete testing, Asphaltic Cement Concrete testing, soils testing, aggregates testing, and pavement performance testing. He was often called as an expert witness in litigation involving pavement design and performance. This is just a sampling of what Nady Engineering did. The lab in Nevada was staffed by engineering students from ISU. It involved practical, as he would say “real world” experience for what they were or would be studying in working toward their civil engineering degrees. Robert was always prepared to teach his students both in the classroom and on the job. Most of his students stayed with NES for two or three years, leaving only when they graduated. Their personal success rate at ISU was very high. Most became engineers, then PE’s in private businesses, or with governmental jobs at many levels. Robert established a second lab in Mason City, Iowa, and staffed it with students from NIAC. Both labs were well received by industry.

THERE WAS INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS: From 1973, through the mid 1980s, Robert practiced civil engineering in Haiti, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for private American companies, private companies working with foreign governments and foreign private companies. Sometimes it was teaching/overseeing, as in Haiti, other times it was working in construction quality control. A strength test in Portland cement requires curing for a specified number of days before testing. He commuted to and from Saudi for those tests. This allowed him to work with projects ongoing in Iowa. There were some fascinating projects and interesting happenings in his international work.

THERE WAS GLIDING: While living in New Delhi, a childhood dream materialized. As a youngster he had been fascinated by gliders; powerless aircraft towed to altitude and skillfully kept aloft as long as possible on cushions of rising air called thermals. New Delhi had a very active gliding club. He took lessons; worked and obtained his Indian license to fly gliders. Upon returning to the U.S. in the fall of 1967, he immediately checked out the many clubs in Iowa; locating two clubs not too many miles away; one in Winterset and one in Ames. He quickly got his private and commercial certificates with a glider rating, advanced to become an FAA instructor for gliders, and for many years was the FAA Examiner Designee for gliders in Iowa, traveling around the state giving check rides and teaching. Over several Christmas holidays he visited a grandson in school in Hawaii and went to Dillingham Field gliding club on the north shore of Oahu. The operator needed a hand so he got special permission from the FFA to give check rides and, if we recall correctly, issue licenses. He visited many, many clubs throughout the USA and a few in England. For several years, as a captain in the Civil Air Patrol, he volunteered his time to teach 14-17-year-old student cadets in the summer encampment programs in Hobbs, N.M. He was also active in the Ames Civil Air Patrol. As much as Robert loved gliders, he was not interested in powered flight; once remarking that airplanes were only useful to get him to some place to fly gliders.

Though Robert thought his teaching career was over, in the 1990s, ISU contacted him and asked if he would consider filling temporarily some of the teaching slots in the Civil Engineering Department. He said yes and was there for five or six years.

In 2001 he sold Nady Engineering Service to Construction Materials Testing, now located in Des Moines, and joined them as their engineer. He was pleased observing the firm’s steady and strong growth and enjoyed working with them through the years, until the week of Sept. 20, 2012, when he abruptly embarked upon unexpected retirement at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames.

He had worked for more than 60 years. Often people would ask him why he continued to actively work. His reply was always the same, “When I get out of bed some day and it’s not fun anymore, I’ll quit.”

To his family he epitomized all that was gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, loving and steadfast.

Until his death, he held active memberships and committee leadership positions in many national and international organizations including AAPT, APAI, ASCE, ASTM, Soaring Society of America and Silent Knights Gliding Club in Ames. He was also a member of the Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at ISU, was a 50-plus year member of the Masonic Order in Nevada Lodge No. 99, a member of the Des Moines Embassy Club, and Indian Creek Country Club in Nevada.

Robert is survived by his wife, Margaret; three children, Zoe R. Nady, Christian J. (Lisa) Nady and Orson D. Nady; nine grandchildren, Nicholas (Mercedes) Gogerty, Alexander (Coleen) Gogerty, Orson (Kara) Nady, Jr., Ida (Kyle) Stowe, Spencer Nady, Jordan Nady, Trenton Nady, Gabriel Nady and Ethan Nady; five great-grandchildren; two sisters, Marion E. Davenport of Greenfield, Mass. and Carrie Jane (Ray) Talbott of Osceola, IA; one brother Leo L. Nady of Sioux Falls, S.D; one brother-in-law H. L. (Lorna) Andrew of Palm Beach Gardens, FL; one sister-in-law Jeanne M. Rodman, M.D. of Palm Beach Gardens FL; numerous nephews and nieces.; great-nephews and great-nieces.

He was preceded in death by his parents and two aunts; two brothers-in-law; one sister-in-law; and one great-nephew.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to The Nevada Historical Society, Family of Faith Church in Nevada, or to a charity of your choice.

- Paid obituary -

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