1919-2012

Urban Polking, 93, of Carroll, died Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, at Carroll Health Center Nursing Home in Carroll, where he had been a resident since January 1995.

Mass of the Christian burial will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Carroll.  Celebrant will be Father Timothy Schott. Music will be by Marcy Anderson and the St. Lawrence Choir with Jake Gute as song leader.  

Lector will be Beth Baker. Gift bearers will be Molly Baker and Heidi Larsen.  Eucharistic ministers will be Ann Christensen, Lorraine Danner and Mary Jo Wieland.  

Casket bearers will be Chris Polking, Bill Polking, Chris Ludwig, Kyle Baker, Tom Polking and Dan Miller.  Burial will be at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Carroll with military honors conducted by the Carroll American Legion.

Visitation will be held at St. Lawrence Church one hour prior to Mass time.  Funeral arrangements are under direction of Sharp Funeral Home in Carroll.

Born Oct. 14, 1919, at St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Urban was a son of Anthony J. and Elsie (Brey) Polking. His paternal grandparents, Anton and Mary (Woerdehoff) Polking were pioneer farmers in Carroll County, breaking the original sod on their farm in Wheatland Township.

He grew up on the family farm west of Breda and attended St. Bernard School in Breda and later graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 1936.

Urban attended Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., until December 1941 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed at various bases including Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, McCook AFB, McCook, Neb., and Gander AFB, Newfoundland.  He retired from the Air Force in 1946 with the rank of major at the conclusion of World War II.

Urban resumed his academic studies at Iowa State University where he graduated in 1948 with a degree in electrical engineering. He subsequently attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Mexico City University.

He was employed by the CAA (Civil Aeronautics Administration, the forerunner of the Federal Aviation Administration) supervising installation of radar equipment at many of the major airports in the western United States and Alaska. He was also employed by the Howard Hughes Aircraft Corp. doing contract work for the FAA.

When the space program began, he joined NASA as a technical engineer. He had a prominent part in the early space missions, including Gemini and Apollo; working in the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and also at the space center headquarters in Houston, Texas, and Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Urban retired from NASA in 1976 and had resided in Des Moines and Carroll since that time.

Urban had great thirst for knowledge, and was well-versed in four languages. At age 15 he built and operated his own amateur radio station in the attic of his parents’ farm in Breda.  He communicated with other amateur stations throughout the United States while still in high school.

He is survived by one brother, Dean Polking of Fort Dodge; his sister-in-law, Dette Polking of New Orleans, La.; and several nieces, nephews and other extended relatives.

Urban was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Col. Warren A. Polking and Lt. Mark R. Polking; and one sister, Maureen Miller.