Dr. John J. Kamerick died April 13 at the age of 95. A funeral mass was celebrated for him at the Church of the Incarnation in Sarasota, Fla., on Saturday, April 18, at 10 a.m. A viewing was held on Friday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Toale Brothers Funeral Home in Sarasota, 40 N. Orange Ave.
He was a loving husband, beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather, and passed peacefully surrounded by his five surviving children in Sarasota, Fla., his home since 1986.
Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, Dr. Kamerick received his bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University, and his Master’s degree and Ph.D from the University of Iowa, as well as honorary doctorates from Loras College and St. Ambrose University.
Dr. Kamerick was president and professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa from 1970 to 1986. Under his administration, the Communications/Art Center, Schindler Education Center, Industrial Technology Center, Physical Education Center, and the UNI-Dome were constructed. Upon retirement from UNI, the Kamericks were honored by having their name placed on a new building, the Kamerick Art Center. A fellowship was established in his name for students pursuing doctorate of education degrees at UNI.
Earlier he held the presidency at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where he instituted reforms such as more faculty governance, courses in African-American history and culture, and promoting the establishment of a chapter of the NAACP, all of which were highlighted in a lengthy profile in the Wall Street Journal. Prior to that he served as academic vice president and provost at Kent State University.
Among his memberships he served as chairman of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and President of the Iowa College Association. His biography was carried in Who’s Who in America for more than 25 years. He was also a Distinguished Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America.
A veteran of World War II, Dr. Kamerick served to Lieutenant (senior grade) on a destroyer/ minesweeper, the USS Hogan. He took part in six invasions and survived Kamikaze attacks in the Sulu, South and North China Seas, but he relished telling the story of how his ship was finally damaged: An American pilot dropping his bombs before returning to his ship dropped one near the Hogan, blowing a hole in its side, necessitating the ship’s return to the U.S. for repairs. Kamerick received the Victory Medal and one Battle Star for the Philippine Liberation, and six Battle Stars for the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Dr. Sheila Kamerick, who held a Ph.D in history. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, as well as his son, Michael, consultant and entrepreneur in healthcare research; his daughters, Eileen, SVP/CFO of ConnectWise.com Inc. in Tampa; Kathleen, Ph.D and faculty member with the history department at the University of Iowa; Maureen, textile artist and entrepreneur in Newark, DE.; Megan, independent journalist and producer with New Mexico PBS in Albuquerque; his four grandchildren, Clare, Colleen, Connor and Matthew, and his great-grandchildren, Genevieve and Julian.
Memorial donations may be directed to: Incarnation School in Sarasota; Cardinal Mooney High School in Sarasota; St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa; and to the John J. Kamerick Quasi Endowed Fellowship at the University of Northern Iowa.