Well-known attorney Rex Ryden dies at 87

T-R FILE PHOTO Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance, left, presented Attorney Rex Ryden with a street sign bearing his name at the June 13, 2016 city council meeting. Ryden received a standing ovation from city council. city staff, and attendees. The sign was later placed in the Marshalltown Industrial Park, and was given as a token of appreciation for Ryden’s many years of volunteer contributions to MIP and numerous other community organizations. Ryden had previously retired earlier in the year after many years as partner at the Cartwright, Druker & Ryden law firm. He died Aug. 22.

A prominent local attorney renown for his legal skills and community service has died.

Rex Ryden, 87, passed away at his residence Tuesday.

“A lawyer could not ask for a better senior partner than Rex Ryden,” said Joel Greer of Cartwright, Druker & Ryden.

“His door was open. He was calm and steady as a rock. Graduating at the very top of his class, his was a brilliant writer and negotiator. To Sharon and me, he was the perfect mentor. To us personally, he was a father figure, and a good one at that having reared five successful daughters.

“His community involvement was amazing, and much of it behind the scenes. There is a good reason the top service award given by the (Marshalltown) YMCA-YWCA is called the Ryden Service Award, given the decades of service that Nan and he gave to the Y. There is a good reason there is a Rex Ryden Road in the area that is the Marshalltown Industrial Park, which he chaired in order to spawn new business. There is a no doubt he deserved Rotary’s highest service award.

“Rex loved the law, loved the office staff, loved Marshalltown and above all loved his family.”

Another long-time Marshalltown attorney also had great respect for Ryden.

“I know from my personal experiences with Rex Ryden he always evidenced the highest and best qualities of what an attorney should be,” said Roger Schoell of Grimes, Buck, Schoell, Beach & HItchins. “He was always prepared for the case he was dealing with, his integrity was unquestioned and he always exhibited a high ability to understand the issues in order to guide matters to a satisfactory resolution. He was courteous, his opinion was respected and he symbolized what a good attorney should be.”

Ryden, a Des Moines native, believed strongly in giving back to his adopted community.

His volunteer commitments also included the Fisher Community Center, Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce — where he received the Chamber of Commerce President’s Award for Outstanding Community Service in 1984 — and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“The Rydens have always attended St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where both have served on the Vestry and where Nan (Ryden’s spouse) has served as Senior Warden,” wrote the late, esteemed Marshalltown historian, Dorothy Apgar.

Ryden also served on the church’s investment committee.

Ryden was born and raised in Des Moines and attended the University of Iowa for undergraduate and law degrees. He served two years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, a portion of which time was spent in Okinawa.

“We loved the guy,” said Greer. “And we are still trying to follow in his volunteer footsteps … president of the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA, Rotary, United Way Chairman, and many others.

Ryden’s funeral is 10:30 a.m. Monday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Anderson Funeral Home in Marshalltown.


Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com