Rose Casady McCay

Honored by:Carolyn Cornette
Brick location:F:5  map

Rose Casady McCay says she was born to dance. She also admits to being a frustrated architect--of churches and bridges. I believe she was born to be a positive role model for those forhmate enough to know her. Her life speaks of a confident, competent, individual with many interests who knows her own self, appreciates her heritage and knows the responsibility of giving back much of what she has receieved.

Sharing, for Rose, came from a family heritage of accepting responsibility in society and sharing the resurces that came. Rose's family members were important in the development of the young states of Iowa on her father's side and Nebraska on ther mother's in the 1800's and the early 1900's. Her family on her father's side were landowners and bankers in a developing city of Des Moines. On her mother's side her great grandfather was the first chief justice of the state of Nebraska. Her grandmother was Grace Mason Wheeler who was to Nebraska what Carrie Chapman Catt was to Iowa.

She speaks of her grandmother as "tremendous" and her mother as very generous and the most "Christ-like" of anyone she's known. Rose was in the first class of Lincoln High School. She went to Grinnell College graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics and went off to Washington D.C. in 1934 to work for an insurance company and get an advanced degree from George Washington University. She returned to the mid-west intending to live with her beloved grandmother and do her advanced degree in Nebraska. She took an interim job with Banker's Life in Des Moines and stayed to marry Dale who had been the boy friend of her best girl friend. She and Dale remained in Des Moines for Dale to teach at East High School. When he got at job at Western Military Acadamy in Alton, IL they moved there. In 1945 they came back to Iowa and to Ames. Dale taught at Iowa Sate University and the family spent enough time in the summers at the University of Iowa for him to get a Ph.D. in English. Though Dale is retired from Iowa State University they remain in Ames.

Rose happily gave up any career in Mathematics she might have had to be a wife and mother though she wrote at the age of 9 that she wanted to be a "mother and wife" (in that order). She did the things that mothers and community women do. She served on human agency boards and supported their four children Sarah, Douglas, Robin and Nathan in their activities. Her church, St. John's Episcopal, got a new organ and had no one to play it. Rose thought how foolish not to be able to enjoy it. Though she had played the piano but not an organ she called Ira Schroeder a member of the Iowa Sate music faculty and asked him to tell her what to pull out and push in. He indicated that in time he would do that. She said "Today I play tomorrow." He did and she did.

Rose did and does share her financial resources as well as her time and talents. Rose and Dale and their family have been very supportive of St. John's Episcopal Parish, the human services agencies of Ames and especially Youth and Shelter Services of Ames. Rose and Dale have recently made a major contribution to Grinnell College. They have given enough to endow a chair for the humanities; a gift of a million dollars. Rose has had many advantages; appreciates every one and gives to others in the same manner she received. She is delightful caring and giving and as she says "I can't breathe and can't walk but aside from that I'm in great shape." Rose Casady McCay is a wonderful woman. A friend said recently "Rose is just too good to be true." Thankfully Rose and her goodness are true.