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THE PASSING OF TOM URBAN, RETIRED CEO OF PIONEER HI-BRED
Des Moines (IA) Register

Des Moines - Tom was born on May 26, 1934 in Des Moines, Iowa to Helen Jones Urban and Thomas Nelson Urban. He succumbed to cancer on July 10, 2020 at Kavanagh House hospice in Des Moines surrounded by his family.

After an education that included Hanawalt Elementary, Roosevelt High, and Harvard University, Tom became the youngest Mayor of Des Moines in 1968, at age 33, and led the city in tumultuous times that echo even today.

He dedicated his business life to Pioneer Hi-Bred, a company that was an anchor of the Des Moines community. As CEO and Chairman, he led Pioneer to become a leading force in agricultural progress in the country and the world, landing him in the Iowa Business Hall of Fame.

Tom always believed Des Moines could set the standard for progress and be a city of continual renewal and rejuvenation. Most recently, he was one of the key drivers behind the renaissance of the Des Moines Botanical Garden. He showed his unfailing support of education through his board service at Simpson College and Concord Academy, and the establishment of the Urban Research Award at the Iowa Academy of Education.

Tom contributed on a national scale, serving as the Chairman of the Carnegie Institution for Science and the National Tropical Botanical Garden and was a valued member of many other corporate and non-profit boards. His tireless public service and personal generosity resulted in much recognition by many organizations and individuals too numerous to list. While Tom was proud of his achievements, he was most at peace when reading, writing poetry and working in his beloved garden.

He is survived by his wife Mary Bright Urban, his children Vikki Broer, Nina Urban, Tom Urban III and Bill Urban, their spouses, and nine grandchildren, as well as his three younger brothers Tim Urban, Ted Urban and David Urban and their spouses, and many nieces and nephews. His younger sister Susan Horsey predeceased him. He will be sorely missed by the many people whose lives he impacted during his 86 years.

Due to the pandemic, a celebration of Tom's life will be held at a later date. For those who wish to remember Tom in a special way, please consider a donation to the Des Moines Botanical Garden in his memory.


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