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“To the family of Dean Gabbert, We came to know him through his wife Joyce. Both of them were wonderful people. Dean was soft spoken, so very kind....Read More »
1 of 5 | Posted by: Tom and Laurie Scheetz - Niota, IL

“The Fort Madison Monday Afternoon Study Club has many fond memories of Dean. Joyce was a member and Dean often accompanied her. He was a wonderful...Read More »
2 of 5 | Posted by: Judith McFerren - Fort Madison, IA

“RIP. I didn't meet Dean, but have enjoyed his legacy, writings, photos and knowledge of the Mississippi River. I wrote at The Fairfield Ledger from...Read More »
3 of 5 | Posted by: Diane Vance - Newport, OR

“Ralph and I send our sympathies at the loss of a dear friend and "River Rat". Loved his river home. He and Joyce were so gracious. Chapter JO P.E...Read More »
4 of 5 | Posted by: Marilyn Wentzien - Fort Madison, IA

“Sincere sympathies to Dean's family on behalf of myself and the members of Midwest Riverboat Buffs in which he was a long time director and member...Read More »
5 of 5 | Posted by: Pete Sisak - Watertown, WI


Dean Gabbert, veteran Iowa and Illinois journalist, died April 18, 2015, at his home in Nauvoo, Illinois. He was 92 years old.

A memorial service will be held Friday, April 24, 2015 at First Presbyterian Church, Fairfield, Iowa, 5:30 pm. An additional memorial service will be held Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Nauvoo Presbyterian Church, Nauvoo, Il, at 10:00 am.

A former editor and publisher of the Fairfield Ledger, Fairfield, Iowa, Gabbert and his wife, Joyce, made their home on the Mississippi River near Nauvoo, IL., in 1985.

Dean Ireton Gabbert was born July 23, 1922 at New London, Iowa, the son of Harry A. and Edna Ireton Gabbert. He was married to Joyce E. Phillips October 9, 1942. Surviving are his four children: Deanne White, Dakar, Senegal; John Gabbert, Winona, MN; Gretchen Van De Voorde, Fairfield, IA; and Lisa Gillespie, Ottumwa, IA. Thirteen grandchildren and step-grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and step-great grandchildren, and 1 niece survive. He was preceded in death by his wife and one grandson.

Gabbert began a 53-year association with the Fairfield Ledger in 1938 when he was a student at Fairfield High School. He was named managing edior in 1946 and editor in 1974. He became editor and publisher in 1981, holding that position until his retirement June 1, 1985.

He graduated from Parsons College following World War II military service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a director of the Fairfield Independent School District, a member of the Fairfield Airport Committee and a member of the Great Jefferson County Foundation. He also served as an elder in both the Fairfield and Nauvoo Presbyterian Churches. In Nauvoo he was active in the Boat Harbor Committee and the Nauvoo Historical Society.

Gabbert had a life-long interest in the Mississippi River. He made many boat trips on the Mississippi and other rivers, writing stories for The Waterways Journal and other publications. He was also the author of two Mississippi River novels, The Log of the Jessie Bill in 1993 and Let the Lower Lights be Burning in 2002. He wrote the non-fiction title, Brown-Water Boating: Tales of Riverboats & Coast Guard Cutters, 2007, and co-authored with Marilyn S. Candido, Nauvoo: a History Featuring the Painting of Lane K. Newberry, 2006.

Gabbert's honors include the James V. Swift Prize in Maritime Literature presented by the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library of the St. Louis Mercantile Library, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2006; US Coast Guard Public Commendation, 1993; State Historical Society of Iowa Trustees Award 1985 for his writing "The Death of an American College;" Parsons College Wall of Honor 2010, Fairfield High School Wall of Honor 2011; Fairfield Lions Award for Dedicated Newspaper Service, 1938-1985; Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Community Service Award, 1984; Fairfield Community Education Association, Friend of Education Award, 1985; Nauvoo Grape Festival Grand Marshall, 2010; and the Nauvoo Historical Society Certificate of Recognition, 1995.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to the Nauvoo Historical Society - River Room, the Nauvoo Presbyterian Church, or the Carnegie Historical Museum, Fairfield.

Following cremation, burial in Evergreen Cemetery, Fairfield, will occur at a later date. The Schmitz-Lynk Funeral Home, West Point, Iowa and the Raymond Funeral Home of Fairfield are in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.schmitzlynkfuneralhome.com.