Marilyn E. Staples


"Marilyn Staples is the representative woman... She represents the women who have donated lives to volunteer activities. She represents the women who do so much... She represents the women who have made a difference in our lives..."
—Betty Grundberg, 1991

Marilyn E. Staples, born in 1926, has worked as a volunteer to improve the quality of life for Iowans. Her thorough research and unrelenting advocacy have focused on housing, human needs, government, education, and the land. She has often worked to support causes that were unpopular but which had far-reaching beneficial consequences. As president of the Des Moines Housing Council, she has developed such programs as homesteading, housing for low-income families, and a tool-lending library. She has served on the Polk-Des Moines Taxpayers Association Board, Grand View College Board of Trustees, Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission, Polk County Land Use Advisory Committee, Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Federation Board, and numerous other boards and committees. Staples has been president of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Des Moines and has chaired background studies on government, health services, human resources, natural resources, and housing issues. She co-drafted county charter legislation that was enacted in 1988 and helped to spearhead the successful drive to establish a Charter Commission in Polk County. This Commission, the first in Iowa, may well provide a model for other counties as it studies possibilities for restructuring county government and finance. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1991.

UPDATE: Staples has retired from the board of the Des Moines Housing Council, after having helped found the organization in 1978 and serving on the board from 1978 to 1993. She has continued her active involvement in city government. She has served on numerous Des Moines Planning and Zoning Commission committees, worked with city staff on writing a comprehensive plan for the year 2020, reviewed the City’s Capital Improvements programs, represented Planning and Zoning on the Strategic Planning Commission and other ad hoc committees, and served on the committee to re-engineer the design of Martin Luther King Parkway. Staples has also served on the Gray’s Lake Design Committee; the Southwestern Hills Neighborhood Association Park Committee; the Polk Des Moines Taxpayers Association; the Des Moines area Mayors’ Select Committee on Tax Disparities; Fleur Drive Development group; and the Metropolitan Des Moines League of Women Voters Board.