Robert E. McCoy
July 22, 1929 – October 17, 2021
Bob was born in Elgin, Illinois on July 22, 1929 to Ruth and E. Earl McCoy. At the age of 14, he worked on a mink ranch with German prisoners of war. His shared lunches with them led to a long-standing love for the German language. He graduated from high school in June 1947 and attended Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin. During his university studies, he spent a summer in the camps of Chaley Colorado, where he guided groups of high school students to Long’s Peak (14,259 feet). He loved the mountains to the west. He then worked summers in Yellowstone and joined the Iowa Mountaineers on climbing trips in Banff and Glacier National Parks. After graduating summa cum laude from Lawrence, he attended Northwestern University medical school. He received an MD from Northwestern on June 5, 1955. He attended the University of Iowa, completing his residency in orthopedic surgery and a master of science. While in Iowa, he met Bonnie Ellen Amerman. He was happy to report that he and Bonnie walked through the debut scene together as husband and wife, with Bob receiving her degrees and Bonnie receiving her Masters in Nutrition. From Iowa City, they moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Bob spent two years as an Air Force orthopedic surgeon. The couple then moved to Mason City and Dr. McCoy joined Surgical Associates. They enjoyed the extended family of Surgical Associates until his retirement in 1992. They were members of the First Presbyterian Church for over 50 years.
When Bob and Bonnie moved to Mason City, they bought a house two doors down from the Blythe House. When the Blythe house became available, they immediately fell in love with it and bought the house in 1964. Bob had no background in architecture, but he soon understood the cultural gem they stumbled upon that changed the world. during their life. . Soon after, Professor J. William Rudd of the University of Cincinnati brought a group of architectural students to Mason City and asked to be able to take pictures of the Blythe House. This meeting led Bob and Bonnie to become involved for life in the research and preservation of the architecture of the Prairie School. Bob called the architectural research of the Prairie School his calling.
After reading about Walter Burley Griffin, who had moved to Australia to design Canberra, the new capital, and finding no good historical records on the architecture of the Prairie School in Mason City, Bob began his local research. . After several years, numerous correspondence and interviews with first-hand participants, Bob published an article in the Prairie School Review titled “Rock Crest / Rock Glen: Prairie Planning in Iowa”. The rigor of this research has given rise to numerous correspondence from other architectural historians in the United States and Australia. Bob then made a major contribution to the restoration of the Stockman House and the Park Inn Hotel. The recently restored Stockman House opened to the public in 1992 and Bob was the Grand Marshall of the North Iowa Band Festival Parade that year. He continued to work tirelessly for the restoration of the Park Inn hotel and the creation of the architectural interpretation center adjacent to the Stockman House, which now bears his name.
In addition to his orthopedic practice and his love of Prairie School architecture, Bob enjoyed spending time with his family and traveling. The family was able to vacation in South Hero, Vermont with extended family members each summer. Bonnie was his partner in all of their many adventures and travels throughout their 58 years of marriage.
Bob was predeceased by his beloved wife Bonnie. He is survived by his sons Jamie (Diane), Doug (Sue) and Andy (Julie) and nine grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church on October 30. To make sure all participants feel safe, the family requests that masks be worn. A live broadcast will be available. For more information, visit the church website.
In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to donate to the River City Society for Historic Preservation or the First Presbyterian Church.
Published by Globe Gazette on October 23, 2021.