MOUNT PLEASANT- Robert Batey, 94, of Mount Pleasant, died Friday, December 30, 2022, at the Jefferson County Health Center in Fairfield.
Born New Year’s Day, 1928 to Harry and Mary Batey, Robert grew up a child of the Great Depression. At a young age he learned to hunt and trap in order to supplement the family food source, and soon parlayed that skill into the fur business and a source of income for the family. Always the entrepreneur, he rented a blacksmith shop at 14, and was soon joined by his father.
With WWII calling but too young to serve in uniform, Robert began working at the tank arsenal in Bettendorf, Iowa at age 15. He had to lie on his application to get the job but would soon become night foreman. After his 16th birthday, realizing he had a legal document that established his age at 17, Robert enlisted in the Marine Corps. There, he would be selected for Sea School and stationed aboard aircraft carrier U.S.S. Cabot. During the Pacific Theater, he became the #1 20mm tub gunner, earning 5 battle stars.
After the war, Robert moved to Storm Lake, Iowa. It was here, working as a lakeshore patrolman he would meet Iola, his wife of 67 years. With family roots in logging and land clearing, he and Iola relocated to Maquoketa, where they established the family farmstead and first logging venture.
Robert was one of the first exporters of Walnut logs in the United States. His business, Allied Timber Exchange, would become the largest, shipping logs globally. His wife and business partner Iola accompanied him on many trips to these places, and they made a wonderful life of it, raising eight children along the way.
The pursuit of Walnut would eventually bring the family farm and forestry business to Mount Pleasant Iowa in 1974, where it became more diversified in timber, logging, sawmilling, and whole tree chipping. His extensive knowledge of trees and land clearing operations led to many high-profile jobs. A later business venture, Chips Inc., would clear the ground for Saylorville Lake. Sometime thereafter, Batey Ltd Sawmill was born.
An inventor at heart, Robert would design many pieces of equipment over the years, which were used in his day-to-day operations. Among these was the Blockbuster Firewood Processor, which are still being built 35 years later.
He had many passions in life, he loved family gatherings, tending to his cattle and flying airplanes. Usually done with one of his many dogs by his side. Robert was always up for an adventure, the memories of which will live on with wife Iola; eight children, Gary (Donna) Mt. Pleasant, Cindy (Tom) Ft. Madison, Ted (Peggy) DeWitt, Kathy; North Carolina, Scott; Florida, Tim (Kerry) Mt. Pleasant, Todd (Debbie) Panora, and Sally; Mt. Pleasant, 22 grandchildren, and many more great grandchildren.
Special thanks to Leroy Coleman, Mercedes Ellard and granddaughter Sara for making it possible for Mom and Dad to stay at home.
Funeral service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 7, 2023, at Olson-Powell Memorial Chapel. Rev. Mike Johnson will officiate. Burial will follow in the Forest Home Cemetery. Military Rites will be conducted by the Henry County Honor Guard. Visitation will be held 2:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, at the Olson-Powell Memorial Chapel, where the family will greet friends beginning at 5:00 p.m. A memorial fund has been established for the MPCSD Music Boosters or Athletic Boosters. The Olson-Powell Memorial Chapel is caring for Robert and his family.