BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison City Councilman Bob Morawitz died this morning after a prolonged battle with cancer.
The 64-year-old veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired electrician died at 8:23 a.m. Wednesday at Great River Hospice House in West Burlington.
A recurring theme in condolences from his peers on the City Council and with city staff was his independence of thought and passion for service.
Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said Morawitz sought out service and that’s not an easy thing anymore.
“Especially in today’s world, it takes a special kind of person to want to do that,” Mohrfeld said.
“It’s really kinda tough right now. There’s not a lot of gratitude, but he knew that and still fought to serve people. God bless him for wanting to do that.”
Morawitz was very active in Lee County Democratic Party and received the Steve Ireland Award, The Eppers-O’Malley Award and the Democrat of Distinction Award from the Lee County Democrats. He was also named 2019 Fort Madison Citizen of the Year by the Fort Madison Daily Democrat.
He had unsuccessful bids for state senator in 2012 and state representative in 2018. He also ran in 2013 for the Fort Madison City Council and then was elected in 2017 to represent the 2nd Ward.
Morawitz served in the U.S. Navy for six years during the Vietnam era. He was also an electrician with the IBEW Local #13. He volunteered for the City Preservation Commission, the Old Settlers Association and the North Lee County Historical Society.
City Manager David Varley said Morawitz was an engaged councilman who didn’t shy from questioning anything.
“I enjoyed working with Bob,” Varley said. “He had original thoughts and he would tell us what was on his mind. He was an independent thinker and brought new ideas to the table.”
Varley said it wasn’t uncommon for Morawitz to stop in to see Varley and discuss questions he had on issues facing the city.
“He was very good about doing that and talking with us. We’re going to miss him here, and we’re sorry to see him pass.”
Councilman Kevin Rink, the current longest serving council member, said Morawitz had great knowledge of city history and operations and made his opinions known.
Rink said he wished he’d been able to spend more time with Morawitz on the council.
“Bob did a little bit of everything and anything,” Rink said.
“And he had a vast amount of knowledge for the decisions that we had to make. That enabled him to questions things and I really appreciated that about him. He’s definitely going to be missed. My condolences go out to his entire family.”
Councilman Mark Lair said not only did Morawitz make substantial contributions to the city government, he was also ever-present in works with the city’s history including the new Battlefield site.
“I think he brought a lot of good things to the council and he was very level headed. His knowledge of his trade, as an electrician, also helped us in many decisions we had to make,” Lair said.
Mohrfeld said Morawitz sought out public service, sometimes even things as little as sweeping up sidewalks around town, but it was his challenge to the beaten path that sticks out with the Mayor.
“He was never afraid to challenge the status quo,” Mohrfeld said. “And that’s a good thing. He was very independent thinker and he’s going to be missed here.”
Morawitz is survived by his wife Bev Gobble of Fort Madison and five stepsons, 13 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, a brother and two sisters. His complete obituary appears inside today’s edition.