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Joe Fagan

September 02, 2020

Service Details

On September 2, 2020 Joe Fagan moved on to higher ground.

Joe was born on March 14, 1940 and is the son of Francis Fagan and Florence Collins.

Joe grew up on a small farm (120 acres) in Dubuque County and went to a one-room country school taught by his second cousin Amy Larkin from first to third grades, and by his aunt Liz Lynch from fourth through eighth. He was surrounded by great neighbors and cousins.

He played baseball every day of his life from eight to twenty-four, including on the town teams of New Melleray, Key West and Zwingle. He was a Jackie Robinson and Dodger fan from 1951 to the day he died.

After graduating from Loras College, Joe spent five years in the seminary and was ordained a Catholic priest on June 3, 1967 and served in Waukon, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

In Waterloo he had the great fortune to be introduced to community organizing at the instigation of Fr. Gene Kutsch.

And from there, with the assistance and wisdom of Shel Trapp and many others, organizing was Joe’s life. From 1975 to 2010 Joe played a major role in the creation and support of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) and being part of numerous endeavors to establish social, economic and environmental justice, and having fun doing it.

In the 1970s Joe met Lou Ann Burkle and fell in love, in a third of a second. He left the priesthood in 1979 and moved to Des Moines. Joe and Lou Ann have two lovely daughters, Bridget Fagan-Reidburn (Shawn Reidburn) and Monica Fagan and two grandchildren, Grace and Eddie Reidburn.

Joe had 3 sibling sisters: Sr. Ruth Fagan (Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque), Marie Thier (Dave Thier, deceased), and Jean Fagan (Dave Fyten), both deceased.

He is survived by a nephew, Benjamin Fyten, and nieces: Abby Fyten Aasbo (Johan), Mary Clemen (Kevin), Colleen Bartels (Steve), and Joan Thier.

Joe had a great life that included dancing with Lou Ann on Saturday nights. He considered his whole life a gift.

A private celebration of life will be held with immediate family. Joe wished to be cremated and his ashes returned to the earth, at the Wildflower Scattering Garden at Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), Common Good Iowa (formerly Iowa Policy Project) or the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, AL.

Obituary written by Joe Fagan