Jeannette Eyerly


Jeannette Eyerly

"Her persistent passion has always been a better place for all." - Mary M. Kennedy, 2005


Jeannette Eyerly, an Iowan for more than 90 years, is an award-winning author of books for children and teens and an advocate for mental health. First published at age eight, she wrote twenty books of fiction for young people, two books of poetry and co-authored a book on writing young adult novels. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 1930 with a bachelor's degree in English. After co-writing a nationally syndicated column in the late 1950s, Eyerly later wrote eighteen novels for young adults, in which the subject matter was ahead of its time - high school drop-outs, abortion, suicide, divorce, and alcoholism. Her work in the public policy arena for treatment of mental illness in Iowa has changed the face of how services are delivered and the stigma attached to mental illness. Following the Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963, Eyerly began a grassroots effort in Des Moines to establish an alternative to hospital care for mental illness. Her dogged determination led to the 1969 establishment of the Polk County Mental Health Center, of which she was a founding member. It was renamed the Eyerly-Ball Community Mental Health Services in 1995 to honor her work. She also is a former member of the Iowa Commission for the Blind and past president of the Des Moines Child Guidance Center. She was born on June 7, 1908 in Topeka, Kansas. She was married 65 years to the late Frank Eyerly, managing editor of The Des Moines Register and Tribune and is the mother of two daughters. She has six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2006.

Update: Eyerly died at the age of 100 on August 18, 2008.