The country lost a great public servant when Dwight Ink, 99, passed away on October 17, 2021. He was a 20-year resident of Lansdowne, VA, but lived at Falcons Landing in Sterling in his last years.
Dwight devoted more than 50 years to public service, working in high level policy and management positions under seven U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower to Reagan.
Born September 9, 1922, Dwight grew up in rural Iowa, and was raised during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and droughts that destroyed his family’s orchard. He left college in 1942 to join the U.S. Army, and rose to captain before returning to Iowa State University to earn the school’s first degree in government. He completed his Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota, working part-time for Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey.
Dwight went to work at the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge, TN, then Savannah River, and Washington DC where he moved up to Assistant General Manager. He worked with President Kennedy on nuclear arms and disarmament issues, and escorted him to Los Alamos, NM to discuss nuclear research. President Johnson appointed Dwight to several tasks including leading the Alaskan reconstruction effort in 1964 to rebuild highways, harbors, and towns following the devasting 9.2 earthquake. During the Nixon years, Dwight was the head of Management at the newly restructured OMB, and later was appointed deputy administrator and then administrator of GSA. Dwight retired from the U.S. government — for the first time — in 1975. But government kept calling him back. President Carter asked Dwight to head the task force to overhaul the federal civil service, resulting in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Additional appointments followed as VP for U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corporation and VP for the National Consumer Cooperative Bank.
President Reagan appointed Dwight as Administrator for the Community Services Administration (formerly OEO), and later Assistant Secretary for Latin America at U.S.A.I.D. where Dwight worked on the challenging issues of civil war in Central America; Manuel Noriega, the about-to-be overthrown dictator of Panama; and political turmoil in Argentina and Chile. He retired from the federal government for the last time in 1989 to become president of the Institute of Public Administration in New York City. Dwight was active throughout his career in both the American Society for Public Administration (serving as president) and as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a member of both organizations for 50 plus years. At age 96, he received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, ISU, and published a college textbook on public management. In 2019, Dwight felt truly honored to be among the first class of inductees in the Government Hall of Fame, with Teddy Roosevelt, the Apollo 11 Astronauts, Elliot Richardson, Colin Powell, and Anthony Fauci.
Dwight’s greatest passion was his commitment to good government and to the public service, but he was also incredibly devoted to his family. His marriage to Margaret Child Ink ended in divorce, but gave him five wonderful children: Stephen (Sharon), Bruce (Jean), Lawrence (Hannah), Barbara Ink Usher (Tony), and Lauri Ink, along with stepson David Wolf; and seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. His marriage to Dona Wolf and their 45-year partnership was the highlight of his life, as he would tell everyone. Our government has lost a true public servant in Dwight Ink and his family has lost their great patriarch.
Interment will be in Arlington Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dwight Ink Endowment Fund, Iowa State University Foundation, 2505 University Blvd, Ames, Iowa 50010-2230.