Tanzel Govan passed away on July 18, 2019. A public visitation will be held from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, 2019, at Henderson's Highland Park Funeral Home. Memorial services will follow at 7:00 p.m.
Tanzel R. Govan, Jr, a native of Chicago, Illinois, but long time resident of Des Moines, Iowa, arrived in the world on February 5th, 1947. The eldest of two children, he was the first born and only son of Tanzel R. Govan, Sr. and Sarah Doretha (Wilson) Govan. He lost his mother on August 3, 1991; nine years later, his father, Tanzel Sr., passed on December 9, 1999. Tanzel peacefully departed this life on a beautiful summer day, July 18, 2019.
An avid sports lover throughout his life, Tanzel once excelled at a variety of sports including swimming, baseball, bowling, karate, and pool playing. While he loved football, he did not play the game; in his later years he watched televised sports continually and distributed information about teams—players and coaches— to family members or friends with less knowledge about the finer points. While attending Morgan Park High in the early 1960’s, he integrated the school swim team as the sole African American swimming on the team. During the early 1960s, he also served as a Life Guard for the Los Angeles, California, Park District. Upon graduation from Morgan Park, Tanzel moved to Des Moines to attend Drake University. At Drake he majored in Psychology, fraternity life (joining Kappa Alpha Psi), and partying. In 1968 he graduated from Drake.
While attending Drake, Tanzel met and married Diane Whiteside. The young couple had one child, a daughter —Tania Romer Govan. The marriage, sadly, did not last; the couple separated and later divorced. Subsequently, Tanzel fought for and ultimately gained custody of his daughter who returned from Denver, Colorado, to live with her father until she became an independent adult.
From 1977 to 1989, Tanzel shared his life with Roxanne (Roxie) Scott. The couple stayed together for twelve years with Tanzel serving as a wonderful surrogate father/stepfather to her three children Rontez, Raasheema, and Richard Scott. Roxie served as s stable mother figure for Tanzel’s daughter. The consummate modern blended family.
To his family in Chicago, Des Moines, California or elsewhere, Tanzel was the model of how to get along with almost anybody and assist family whether anyone asked or not. He was easygoing, supportive, helpful, instructive, generous, and kind. He could also effectively argue a point he thought important; and he could at times be stubborn. But should a cousin from Chicago need help adjusting to college life in Iowa, he was there. Should a grandchild want something special for Christmas, he provided. In family squabbles, he played thoughtful peacemaker. He did his best to help folk reason things out without tempers flaring or temperatures rising.
To his sister, Tanzel was the best big brother and greatest protector ever. He literally saved her life during a riot following a high school football game. He often interceded in classic mother/daughter conflicts; when other kids would play too rough with her, he would step in and resolve any problems (although this might mean “jacking somebody up.”) Tanzel was also a constant reader and librarians in three states knew him well as a reliable and frequent borrower. Additionally, Tanzel was the fishing buddy and traveling companion to his father on father/son journeys to Ohio. He also served as a confidant for his mother—they had an unbeatable mother-to-son bond. As a grandfather in his later years, Tanzel easily established a strong unbreakable relationship with his grandchildren.
Tanzel leaves behind to celebrate his life and cherish his memory his sister, Dr. Sandra Yvonne Govan (called Aunt Bontz); his daughter, Tania R. Govan; several grandchildren; his Chicago family including an aunt, his cousins and their children; his California family including an Uncle and a huge host of cousins; his fraternity brothers; the countless mechanics who kept his car and trucks running—in short, all his family everywhere and a multitude of friends.