“Hank” Don Henry Miguel

“Hank” Don Henry Miguel

“Hank” Don Henry Miguel

Iowa City

“Hank” Don Henry Miguel – artist, athlete, entrepreneur, storyteller, sailor, carpenter, chef, mentor, father, brother, husband, grandfather – died May 22 at his home. A private family burial was held at the Okoboji Cemetery in Arnold’s Park on May 25.

Hank was born to Donald Aaron Miguel and Joan (Rudy) Miguel in Ventura, California on January 12, 1947, where his father had a basketball scholarship at the Community College. Shortly afterwards the family moved back to their hometown of Arnold’s Park, Iowa. The family moved several times during his childhood, including Grinnell, Waterloo and ending up in Davenport. Hank graduated from Central High School where he lettered in football and wrestling in 1965. He attended the University of Iowa in 1965-66 where he was a member of the Iowa Hawkeye football team and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1967, Hank was drafted into the United States Army. While on leave from training at Fort Gordon in Georgia, he married Deborah Dismer on Feb 23, 1968. Hank was deployed to Vietnam in July of 1968, where he served as a Communications Specialist and earned the Viet Nam Combat Medal.

In the summer of 1969, Hank returned home to Davenport. It only took one week back in civilization for Hank and Deborah to get restless and they spent the next month traveling through the Rocky Mountains. In the fall, they moved to Iowa City where Hank used his GI bill to attend college. Their first daughter Melissa Elizabeth was born on April 12, 1971, in Iowa City. After Hank’s father died, they moved back to Davenport where Emelia Margaret Makalah was born on July 9, 1974. Hank worked for Northwestern Bell and was transferred to Iowa City as an installation and repair foreman. Hank and Deborah parted ways in 1980. Hank went on to marry Jamie Sharp, then divorced in 1984. He opened the Iowa City Telephone Company during that time. Hank then established the Iowa City Yacht Club in 1988, which became a hub for great music, live bands, and an amazing college bar experience.

In 1995, once again dreaming and restless, Hank sold everything he owned, including his bar and 12-acre farm, to buy a sailboat (Music was her name) to sail the Caribbean. After docking his boat in many slips throughout the Caribbean, he ended up splitting his time between the Cut House in the Bahamas and in Connecticut, where he helped manage one of the oldest truck stops in the United States.

With his sails again windless, he returned to Iowa to establish the Mt. Vernon Cafe in partnership with his longtime friend, Marty Christian. While renovating a main street building for the venture, Hank met Jane Shuttleworth, living temporarily there before beginning a new job at Iowa Lakeside Lab in Okoboji. The two became friends, spending long hours sharing life experiences and philosophies amidst paint buckets, sawhorses, and tools as he worked on the cafe. When summer came Jane left for Okoboji and Hank opened the cafe. After one day, he closed it and left that adventure to start a new one with Jane. They married on May 7, 2000. Shortly after his only grandchild, Talulah Luna, was born.

During the next 24 years Hank’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit continued to bloom. He started a two-acre truck farm in the couple’s backyard and started the Spirit Lake Organic Coop in partnership with Anne McCormick. He combined his love for golf with fundraising, organizing numerous tournaments that raised funds for the Friends of Lakeside Lab’s environmental programs. He was a president of the Okoboji Protective Association. Through blizzards and thunderstorms he drove fellow veterans from small towns across northwest Iowa to their medical appointments at the VA Hospital in Sioux Falls. He made lifelong friends and built a beautiful home replete with features as unique as his character, including a catwalk, a cupola and large outdoor deck where he hosted many gatherings for family and friends.

Hank and Jane loved to travel without an itinerary and especially loved going to Mexico where Hank became inspired by giant alebrije sculptures he saw in Oaxaca. He began to make his unique outdoor sculptures, including an eight-foot tall gorilla, a ten-foot wide crab with moving pinchers that lit up at night, and a 17-foot long giant fish that swam between the trees in their front yard, bringing joy and delight to the neighborhood and Okoboji tourists.

Into his 70s Hank began to show symptoms of something wrong with his balance and speech. It would take several years before he would become diagnosed with progressive supraneural palsy (PSP), an incurable disease in Hank’s case likely caused by his exposure to Agent Orange during the war in Vietnam. In 2022 the couple sold their Okoboji home to move to Iowa City close to family and the VA Hospital. After two years of managing symptoms as best he could, Hank made plans to donate his brain to science to help understand causes and create cures for PSP and courageously chose to end his suffering by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED). After only six days he died at home. His wife and family thank the VA medical staff, Iowa City Hospice, their caregivers and doula for lovingly helping Hank cope and survive as long as he did. However, he always gave back more than he received with his smile, love and generous spirit.

His family includes his wife, Jane Shuttleworth; daughters, Emelia (Trevor Bridge) Miguel and Melissa (Stephen) Revel; granddaughter, Talulah Luna Miguel Bridge; brother, David (Char) Miguel; sister, Mary Miguel Spigarelli; and nephews, Aaron Miguel and Dyson Miguel.

Memorials in Hank’s honor can be made to Cure PSP, Compassion and Choices or any other organizations that reflect his passion for end-of-life choices, reproductive freedom, LGBTQIA+ rights and the environment.

“Fair winds, calm seas, safe harbors.”

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