Kathleen Neylan

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On Thursday July 16, 2020, Kathleen Neylan, loving sister and aunt, passed away at the age of 75.

Kathleen was born on Sept. 1, 1944, in Washington, D.C. She spent her formative years in Garnavillo and Elkader. In 1961, she graduated high school from St. Clare’s School in Wisconsin. Kathleen attended the University of Iowa, with a major in literature. She received her undergraduate degree in 1964 and then went on to graduate from the University of Iowa law school in 1967. An early trailblazer, she was one of only three women in her graduating class. In 1967, she passed the Iowa Bar Exam.

Always interested in politics, Kathleen worked for the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. after law school. She was a delegate and speaker at the historic 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami. Kathleen was a champion of women’s rights her entire life. She was a long-time member of the Women’s Rights Council and the Democratic Party. Other organizations she belonged to were: The Commission of the Status of Women, the Iowa Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, the Association of Trial Lawyers and the Iowa and Clayton County Bar Association.

Kathleen took over her father’s law practice in Elkader as a sole practitioner. She practiced law in Iowa for 50 years and was recently awarded the Key Person Award by the Iowa Association for Justice. She was known for her unwavering commitment to her clients, for her determination, for her diligent work ethic, effective advocacy and vast knowledge of the law.

Kathleen was preceded in death by her father, Charlie, and her mother, Marguerite. She is survived by her sister, Rosemary; brother, Kevin; nephew, Patrick, his wife, Sopheap, their son, Harrison; and her niece, Molly. She is also survived by her many cousins and friends.

Kathleen had many close friends, and being near family was very important to her. She had a multitude of interests, including gardening, cooking, boating, movies and wine-tasting. Kathleen was a loyal Hawkeye and longtime member of the Iowa Alumni Association. 

It is hard to encapsulate someone as complicated and impressive as Kathleen in just a few paragraphs. She was the type of woman who elevated those around her. She always made everything special and more fun by her presence. She had a terrific sense of humor and ease. She was ambitious, loyal and generous. She will be forever remembered and missed, but the good causes are still with us and the fight will go on.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal” - Richard Puz

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