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Sun, March 07

Obituary: Gary Allan Stokes
May 7, 1936 – December 27, 2020

Gary Allan Stokes

Gary Allan Stokes

If you had an idea that wasn’t quite big enough, or an unproductive thought pattern that needed a new frame, or if your organization forgot that those served should be at the center of policy, you would have wanted to know Gary Stokes. He was an intellectual, teacher, mentor, lover, friend, writer and leader who asked you to go deeper than you currently thought or thought possible. He was a conversational provocateur who preferred true authentic exchanges to swapping stories.

Gary – strong, curious and healthy until COVID brought him down at age 84 – led the Mid-Iowa Community Action agency for 25 years taking it from a failing organization to one that was nationally recognized. Then, he served as the founder and CEO for 10 years of Move the Mountain Leadership Center, training at the local, state and national level. Although his work focused primarily on struggling families, Gary sought throughout his life and career, to develop transformational leaders: vibrant executives prepared to produce enduring new outcomes as well as organizational structures designed with those served at the very center of their strategic plans and daily operations.

Gary preferred the term “free agent” to describe that time of life after professional work. During this period, he published Poise, a Warrior’s Guide and operated his blog,, which, for readers internationally, modeled how to live a life of joy and practical advantage.

He traveled the world with his loving partner/wife, Mary Morris, with particular attraction for America’s splendid national parks, which were visited by car and Harleys. He lived on a mountain ridge near Prescott, Arizona, with 360-degree views, so the magnificence of nature was always present.

At 80, Gary decided he would dance whenever music moved him to do so, with or without a partner, in public or at home. Many evenings, he could be seen moving to rhythms in pure delight.

Gary’s life is celebrated by Mary, his three children, 10 grandchildren and 11-1/2 great-grandchildren, with one cutie on the way.

Heartfelt thanks to the circle of Gary and Mary’s families, friends, neighbors, associates – all, so generous during this time of healing. Any who want to honor Gary can best do so with a donation or personal assistance to families in need.

Gary was an unusual and brilliant man, who touched and made a difference in many lives. He was a warrior, always!

Information provided by survivors.

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