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Delbert  Arlyn  Taebel
  • Memorial contributions may be made to the Austin Children's Shelter.

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“The 50 cold and hungry guests were lined up and ready to be fed. Del took one look around at the other volunteers, and said, "I'll serve." He picked...Read More »
1 of 1 | Posted by: Mary Ann Stafford - Austin, TX


Our Dad died on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, the day of a blue moon. He was 78 years old. To quote one of his colleagues, his death leaves a big gap in the community of honorable people.

As the youngest (by seconds) of twin boys and an older brother, Delbert Arlyn Taebel was born on June 2, 1934 to Louise and Winfield Taebel in Lombard, Illinois.  Although both Louise and Winfield, whose parents hailed from Germany, were both smart and practical people, as was common in their time, they achieved only an 8th grade education.  It was a source of incredible pride that all three of their sons not only completed college but obtained degrees as doctors of philosophy and medicine as well. After graduating from Ripon College in Wisconsin, Del served as a reporter for the Appleton Post-Crescent, where he covered local politics and the final years of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who came from Appleton. It was there that he met his soon-to-be-wife, Kay Swan, when she tried to get him to move faster down a stairwell in her haste to get somewhere.  In 1957, he went on active duty as an Army officer in the Adjutant General Corps and served at Fort Sheridan, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Seine Area Command in Paris, France, Fort Ord, California, the United Nations Command in Seoul, Korea, and finally at the famed 2d Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, where he served as the Adjutant General. Receiving numerous awards and commendations, he was discharged in 1968, but remained in the Army reserves and retired in 1976 after graduating from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

As a Ph D. student at the University of Texas, he was asked by then Texas Senator Barbara Jordan to serve as the chief research director of the Senate's Urban Affairs Committee which she headed. After graduation, he was invited to join the faculty at the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington where he held numerous positions, including Graduate Adviser of the Masters of Urban Affairs and later as Advisor to the Ph. D. in Urban and Public Administration. He also served as the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee which oversees policy governing all four graduate programs in the School of Urban and Public Affairs. In 1996, he was asked to serve as the Associate Dean of the School.

Before his full retirement in 2008, he was extensively involved in a wide variety of public affairs. He served extensively in the Democratic Party, and was named a delegate to the 1974 convention in Kansas City and served on the Credentials Committee at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. He also testified in numerous federal and state court cases on elections, ballots, and the selection of grand jury members. He was considered one of the leading experts on the Voting Rights Act; and testified for several cities and school districts, including Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi, and Amarillo, among others, and has served as an adviser to the State of Texas and Tennessee in court challenges. He wrote more than a dozen books and monographs, several with faculty from his own school as well as others, and he has published more than 50 articles in recognized journals.

Our dad is predeceased by his parents Louise and Winfield and his brother Duane. He leaves behind his wife of 56 years, Kay; daughter and son-in-law Holly and John Eaton and their son Will, of Austin, and daughter and son-in-law Carrie and Jack Jones, and their daughters Kendall and Emma, of Dripping Springs. He also is survived by his older brother Don, his wife Alleane, his sister-in-law Carol, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and great- nieces and nephews.

We've never known a finer human being.  The life he gave us girls and our mom was incredible, full of family camping trips around the country, the cultural and social benefits of an academic life as a professor, and the wonderful sense of humor and congeniality that just made him fun to be around.  It never ceased to amaze us how he had the most incredible combination of smarts, likability and luck that landed him at the right time and in the right place in so many situations.

Dad showed us the meaning of living life to the fullest. He traveled extensively around the world, and even after retirement, he looked for new experiences, taking informal classes at UT, watercolor painting, yoga, and was always reading a new book. As the famous Erma Bombeck once said, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'."
Believe us, our Dad certainly did.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Austin Children's Shelter.