Her strength was her kindness
Longtime Webster County Democrat Kim Motl passed away Friday
Kim Motl, a longtime Webster County Democrat who became known for asking the tough questions and advocating for the underprivileged, passed away on Friday after having suffered a stroke recently. She was 66.
Motl, a former chairwoman of the Webster County Democrats, became just the second woman in Webster County history to serve on the Board of Supervisors when she began her four-year term in 2007. She also served as housing coordinator for Upper Des Moines Opportunity, a position she used to help tackle the issue of homelessness.
“Kim was a dedicated Democratic Party leader whose strength was her kindness and compassion for others,” said Shari Fitzgerald, civic and social organization consultant and contractor. “Kim gave of herself in ways most people are unaware of because she was not boastful.”
Fitzgerald, of Fort Dodge, was a longtime friend of Motl’s. The two worked with each other on several Democratic campaigns. Motl was very active with the Webster County Democrats, serving as chairwoman for 20-plus years.
“She recognized others’ accomplishments and cheered them on while quietly and constantly tending to the needs of her positions within the local and state party,” Fitzgerald said. “She was humorous, generous and talented. Our local, state and national parties and all Democratic candidates past and future have lost a faithful servant and, selfishly, I have lost a very big piece of my history with the loss of my dear friend.”
Niki Conrad, a current Webster County supervisor, often looked to Motl for advice. Conrad is just the third woman to serve as a supervisor in Webster County.
“She would ask really hard questions of me, whether it was something I was talking about personally or something to do with the county,” Conrad said. “She would ask difficult questions and demand honest answers, but she would say it in a way that was caring. She asked the questions because she cared so much about the issues. And then afterward she would let me know she cared about me. She asked me hard questions, but would pat me on the back and she’d say, ‘Thanks kiddo, I’m proud of you.'”
Conrad visited Motl at Friendship Haven after the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 12.
“I went to Friendship Haven after our last board meeting and told her what happened at the meeting and she was very much all there with us and was giving advice even then,” Conrad said. “My last words to her were, ‘I’ll try to make you proud,’ and ‘I love you.'”
Conrad said she always remembered seeing Motl at various Democratic gatherings in the past, but didn’t really get to know her until about seven years ago when Conrad moved back to Fort Dodge.
“I really got to know her within the past seven years as a friend and a mentor,” Conrad said. “Someone I could get good advice from and go to with any questions I had.”
According to Conrad, Motl was loyal to the people of Webster County and was also a good steward of taxpayer money.
“It was always about our responsibility to our fellow citizens, fiscally and compassionately,” Conrad said. “It was both together. She would always stress the importance of taking care of people and in the same breath she would stress being fiscally responsible for the taxpayers. It was something I really admired, that she showed you can do both.”
Conrad said Motl encouraged her to reach for her goals.
“When I was getting appointed to the statewide commission (Commission on Community Action Agency), I went to her for advice given her work at Upper Des Moines,” Conrad said. “She was very supportive of it. She’s always been very supportive. She has always done a great job of lifting up other women and I appreciate that.”
Keith Dencklau, a Republican Webster County supervisor, served with Motl. He respected her passion.
“She was a great person to work with,” Dencklau said. “She was pretty opinionated. If she wanted something done she usually got the job done. If you gave her something to do, she did it.”
In addition to serving as a supervisor, Motl was also chairwoman of the Webster County Compensation Board in the late 1990s. In the 1980s, she served as president of the Webster County Democratic Women.
In 1984, she attended the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.
In 1985, Motl was a candidate for an at-large Fort Dodge City Council seat.
“There must be a more positive image developed about our city government and it must happen soon,” Motl said in a September article published in The Messenger in 1985.
Motl was honored as one of the “Outstanding Young Women of America” in 1985. She was nominated by former Webster County Attorney Catherine Tinker.
Motl also worked at Centralab Inc. in the 1980s.
In 1972, she served as a worthy advisor of Fort Dodge Assembly No. 6 Order of Rainbow for Girls.
Julie Geopfert, current chairwoman of the Webster County Democrats, was friends with Motl for about 25 years.
“She was a great friend,” Geopfert said. “Her faith and family meant the world to her.”
The two attended Motl’s first and only Iowa Hawkeye football game at Kinnick Stadium about 14 years ago. Geopfert recalls the weather being dreadful.
“It was raining so hard that the water going down the steps looked like a waterfall,” Geopfert recalled. “I kept telling her we didn’t have to stay and she said, ‘I’m not leaving.'”
Even though the conditions were quite miserable, the two stayed.
“It was cold and raining but she sat through that whole game,” Geopfert said.
At one point, Geopfert got even more wet from the rain.
“The hood of my poncho had blown down and I hadn’t put it back up right away,” she said. “All the water ran down my back and she (Motl) laughed. She thought it was absolutely hilarious. I didn’t think it was so funny — but we never forgot it.”
Above all, Geopfert remembers Motl for her kindness.
“Not a mean bone in her body,” Geopfert said. “She never did anything to hurt anybody. She would have helped anybody she could have. She would give them the shirt off of her back, if that’s what it took. That was the kind of person she was.”