top of page

About Ursula Delworth

The Miccio Foundation was founded in 2000 by Ursula Delworth, a professor of counseling psychology at The University of Iowa. Dr. Delworth died in May 2000 before fully realizing her dream of a foundation for the benefit of Iowa's animals. Although her position as professor at the University was demanding, she spent many years actively working for animal welfare in Johnson County, Iowa. She served as President of the Johnson County Humane Society and helped establish its foster care program as well as the Florence Unash spay/neuter program. She also served as a member of the Animal Control Advisory Board for Iowa City/Coralville and volunteered in many different capacities at the Iowa City/Coralville Animal Shelter.


Ursula Delworth
1934 - 2000

In August of 2001, Dr. Delworth was named posthumously to the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. Her friend, Ellen Heywood, accepted the award from Lt. Governor Sally J. Pederson on Dr. Delworth's behalf. Dr. Delworth was primarily cited for her professional commitment to the field of psychology, particularly as it pertains to women, and for her involvement with multicultural issues. Her ongoing work on behalf of animals was also recognized.

Dr. Delworth's persistence, knowledge of issues affecting animals and genuine love for them made her a moving force as she worked on their behalf. The Board of Directors of the Miccio Foundation strives to continue her legacy of caring for the animals of Iowa. The Miccio Foundation's goal is to assist groups and individuals in Iowa with a similar purpose.

May 24, 2010 marked the tenth anniversary of Ursula Delworth’s death. Prior to her death Ursula requested that board members should meet for a Foundation dinner once a year. In the early years of the Foundation, board members were likely to have been friends or at least acquaintances of Ursula. This year, when it came time to toast Ursula’s memory, we realized that only one of the board members had actually known Ursula. As a result, the Board contacted a few of Ursula's friends and colleagues to help us preserve Ursula's memory. We posted some of the memories of Ursula they shared with us.

Friends and Colleagues Remember Ursula Delworth

“It is hard to believe that Ursula has been gone for ten years. As I review all the good projects that Miccio has funded, I am more than sure that Ursula would be delighted. She set up this Foundation initially as a grass roots attempt to improve conditions for the animals in shelters in the state of Iowa. Her hope was that upon her retirement, she could work to develop the Foundation. Sadly Ursula died before she retired and before she really had time to put her ideas into practice. The bulk of her estate was left to the Miccio Foundation. Those funds provide those of us who have served on the Board an opportunity to fund shelters in a meaningful way.


"If Ursula were alive today, I think she would say, 'Well done' to the Miccio Foundation. She would follow that up with ten more ideas that she would like implemented in a couple of weeks. We would do it because you didn't say no to Ursula.” – Judy Hendershot, Miccio Foundation Board of Directors, President (2002-2006)

“Ursula Delworth was a loyal and supportive colleague for many years. She always had student interests in mind and was a strong advocate for those interests. We shared a love of all animals, especially those who came to depend on the human race for their care and protection.” – Anonymous


Three of Ursula's beloved cats (Suki, Tiglet, and Ubu)

"Ursula's father, Lee Delworth, was a career Navy man, an Irish kid from St. Louis who came from modest circumstances. Her mother, Gertrude Delworth, was from Brooklyn and was a teacher before marrying. They were both devout Catholics. So Ursula came from an Irish Catholic military family.


Ursula was their older daughter. My mother, Gail, was their other child. As a military family, they moved around a lot. Lee Delworth was a communications officer. As such, on December 7th 1941, he was in charge of a radio facility on Oahu when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor elsewhere on the island. Ursula, her mother, and her sister were all part of the evacuation of civilians that happened soon afterward. From what they told us years later, it was a very frightening time.


My parents met in California in the mid-1960s and Ursula's parents lived there too, eventually moving to my California hometown. Ursula was in places like Fort Collins and Iowa City, visiting for holidays and other family occasions. Ursula and my mother were close and she took the role of aunt seriously. We saw a lot of 'Aunt Urs.'


Her love for animals was clear to me from an early age. We always knew about the pets she had, and she always made time for the various dogs and cats that were part of my family. When it came time for me to go to college she was supportive, chipping in some financial assistance from what she called the 'Feline Foundation.'


My mother died at the age of 50 from lung cancer, and it hit Ursula hard. One thing she did afterwards was to adopt the dog my mother had gotten when my brother and I had left home. I think it was an important way for Ursula to remember her sister. She gave me regular updates on how Sierra was doing for years afterwards.


Ursula also left us too soon. I was looking forward to seeing her more often when she retired but, alas, she never got much chance for that. So I am grateful to you all for carrying on her work." - Douglas Steiger, Ursula's Nephew

Sleeping Cat

"When I met her in 1998 Ursula Delworth worked as a volunteer for the Iowa City Animal Center and was a member of their advisory board. She would ultimately play an important role in the start of the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation (FACF), the fundraising arm of the Iowa City Animal Center.


After establishing FACF in 1999, I had difficulty recruiting a team to help get the organization off the ground. Early in 2000 Ursula heard of my dilemma and introduced me to Jean Walker and Lisa Drahozal Pooley, two women who helped launch the Foundation. Thanks to Ursula's matchmaking skills FACF got off to a strong start; Jean and Lisa proved a perfect match for the emerging organization, lending the talent and energy necessary to lay a solid foundation. During its first ten years the Foundation raised over half a million dollars to support and expand the animal care services at the Center. I'm confident Ursula would be proud to know that FACF is still going strong; improving the health and comfort of Iowa City's homeless animals, and providing funds for low cost spay and neuter, a cause Ursula championed.


Ursula's gift to the Friends Foundation didn't end at connecting me with Jean and Lisa. She also willed FACF most of the contents of her house, which brought in over $3,000 from an estate sale. Helping prepare for the sale, I came across Ursula's Camp Fire Girl leader dress in a pile of things on her bed. There aren't many of us Camp Fire Girls around and I felt a tug at my heart knowing we were kindred in that obscure way. The dress connected me to Ursula, a true Camp Fire Girl who exemplified their slogan, 'give service.' Her caring spirit continues to give service every time FACF affords comfort or help to a shelter animal, and every time one of those animals connects to the joy in another spirit. Thank you, Ursula, for your legacy of compassion, service and connection." - Holly Hotchkiss, Friends of the Animal Center (FACF) Founder

"In early June 1992, I went to the animal shelter in search of a companion for our 2-1/2 year old cat. I was directed to Ursula's house. There I found quite an assortment of felines. Her garage was filled with cages of rescued cats. Among them was a cage in which a once abandoned pregnant cat now comfortably cared for her four kittens. They were born in March and Ursula felt they were now ready for adoption. Since our cat at home was a male, my husband and I thought the wise choice would be to bring home a female in hopes of eliminating any competitive rivalries. All the kittens, of course, were adorable; but one stood out. She was the most social of the group. I decided she was the one.


Ursula took me into her house to fill out the necessary papers. Cats were everywhere! Besides the paperwork, there were requirements to adopting one of Ursula's precious charges. After passing my interview, I was approved; and I took home the newest member of our family. We named her Gizmo.


For Ursula that was not the end. A few weeks later she called me to see how Giz was doing. And several months later called again to make sure everything was fine.


Gizmo will be 21 years old on March 23rd. She doesn't hear very well. She is a bit wobbly these days ­moves slowly and no longer can jump to many of the perches she once claimed as her own. But she still manages to get around among the new places that now belong to her. What she most wants to do is to cuddle in a warm lap. Gizmo's age shows. Her fur is a little straggly and her eyes are dull, but she is still adorable to us.


Update: On September 9, 2014, our little sweetie pie died peacefully in her sleep. Gizzie was 22 1/2 years old. Ursula started her out in this life well." - Donna and Jim Rudert

bottom of page