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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 13, 2006


 Prominent Des Moines physician Stephen GLEASON who apparently committed suicide at his home recenlty, was a Ringgold County native.

GLEASON, who was a former chief of staff for Governor Tom VILSACK and a former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, was 59.

A prominent Democrat, GLEASON had also served as an advisor to President Bill CLINTON on health care matters early in his presidency.

Dr. GLEASON'S parents lived in Kellerton when he was born in Decatur County Hospital in Leon in 1946. His father owned a beauty shop, helped at the POLLARD Grocery Store in Kellerton, which was owned by his uncle, and also ran the Gambles Store.

The GLEASONS moved to Des Moines in 1952 when his father took a job with Banker's Life, now known as Principal Financial.

He visited the farm of his aunt and uncle in Kellerton when he was growing up.

GLEASON graduated from medical school in 1974. In 1980 he had a problem with addiction to painkillers that drew a probationary period of five years, which he successfully completed.

One of his passions became helping other people recover from addictions through the Mercy First Step Program at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.

In January he had a relapse into prescription drug additction and the Iowa Board of Medical Examiners had filed formal disciplinary charges against him before his death.

In a statement about his friend, Governor Tom VILSACK said, "I am deeply saddened by news of Dr. GLEASON'S passing. He was a counselor to me, but more importantly a friend. He set high standards for himself and for those he worked with."

Stephen Charles GLEASON was a osteopathic physician, advisor to President of the United States Bill CLINTON, chief of staff to Governor of Iowa Tom VILSACK, and was a humanitarian.

He was born June 30, 1946, the first son of Gerald Charles and Fern Louise GLEASON in rural Iowa. He graduated from East High School in Des Moines, Iowa in 1964. He married his first wife, Diana Lynn TOWNSEND, in June 1966, raised his first three children, and was subsequently divorced in 1981. Gleason married his second wife, Lisa Ann CORCORAN, in August 1981, and raised his last two children as well as adopting two more children from Russia.

Stephen GLEASON earned his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from what is now Des Moines University medical school where he was the valedictorian of his class. He took a job with Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. GLEASON also served as a health-care adviser to President CLINTON and Hillary CLINTON, and he worked for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Iowa Governor Tom VILSACK chose him to run the Iowa Department of Public Health in 1999. In 2002, GLEASON was named chief of staff, which is the top administrative post in state government. GLEASON held that job until 2005, when he resigned to pursue a career in Medical Consulting at Health Policy Strategies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

GLEASON was a humanitarian, dedicating significant time to foreign disaster relief missions in Ethiopia and El Salvador. He is also a member of the Iowa Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.

GLEASON battled Crohn's disease and became addicted to the painkillers prescribed as a part of his treatment in the late 1970's. In response to his addiction he founded a new addiction-treatment program through Mercy Medical Center to help others suffering the same fate. He held himself out as evidence that addiction can happen to anyone. GLEASON remained sober for more than 20 years before relapsing in 2005.

GLEASON died on March 25, 2006 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Former President Bill CLINTON, Governor VILSACK and Senator Tom HARKIN spoke at GLEASON'S funeral on March 30, 2006 at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Des Moines, Iowa.

In his tribute to GLEASON, CLINTON stated: "I know one thing - Steve GLEASON was a good man, a great man, and the world is a better place because he lived."

Iowa Rock'n Roll Music Association
2001 Hall of Fame Inductee - The Cavaliers

Inducted Members:

The Cavaliers had their humble beginnings when two Des Moines East High School students, a preacher's son and the student council president started them in 1961.

Gary GRIMES on Sax and drummer Steve GLEASON were equipped with one small amp, an old set of school band drums, and a vintage sax. Within three years they were joined by Dominic GUIDICHESSI of Dominic and the Dominos fame. Marvin SPENCER, a well known soul singer from Waterloo and 15-year-old bass guitar sensation Joe HERNANDEZ.

They soon cut a 45-RPM record that rose to #21 on the charts followed by an album. On the road they traveled throughout the country but remained a popular soul act primarily in the upper Midwest. As one of the few fully integrated groups in Iowa in the 1960's, they faced many challenges. There were incidents of being chased out of town by angry locals.

Today, GRIMES is a highly successful business owner in Des Moines. GLEASON is a physician who served the nation in the White House and is now the Iowa Commissioner of Health. HERNANDEZ and GUIDICHESSI are restaurateurs.

SPENCER still an avid singer, has watched his daughter, Tracy SPENCER, rise to stardom with a gold and platinum album in the United States and three Platinum albums in Europe. Today she continues to be a hot soul and hip-hop sensation.

The Cavaliers feel they owe their success to friendship, persistence, and the Cavalier extended family that has included over 50 musicians since 1961. - 2001

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2010

Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Acclaimed Doctor Grew up in Kellerton, Iowa

Doctor Gleason, found dead a week ago,
was born at the Decatur County Hospital

The tragic death of Doctor Stephen GLEASON who was found dead on Saturday, March 25, shocked the state and many parts of the nation as he was an acclaimed physician and was an advisor during the President CLINTON administration. The papers and news have been full of the situation surrounding his death, but his great career as a physician and his envolvement in government is renown.

Doctor Stephen GLEASON was born in Leon, Iowa, in 1946. His family lived in Kellerton, but because there was no hospital there, he was born at the Decatur County Hospital. His dad, Gerald "Jerry" owned a beauty shop, helped at the POLLARD Grocery Store in Kellerton which was owned by his uncle, Howard, and they also ran the Gambles Store, which was a hardware store.

The GLEASONS moved to Des Moines in 1952 where Jerry GLEASON took a job with Bankers Life now known as Principal.

Chris, Steve's brother, stated, "We have fond memories of coming to the parks in Leon and going swimming in the Leon Swimming Pool." He went on to state in an interview with Corey LINDSEY that the family enjoyed visiting on the farm of their Aunt and Uncle SISSEL in Kellerton where they loved to fish and hunt in their youth. "Kellerton is where our roots are," Chris GLEASON said.

Doctor GLEASON was a former chief of staff for Governor Tom VILSACK and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. He was 59 when he died.

Governor VILSACK stated, "He was a passionate and caring public servant and made many contributions to state and federal goverenment."

GLEASON graduated from medical school in 1974 and later became chief of family practice medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. He was a health care advisor to President CLINTON, and helped establish the administration's coverage for all Americans. He was Governor VILSACK'S chief of staff in 2002.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2010

To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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