As a result of the 1946 Iowa Centennial Celebration, a new award, called The Iowa Award, was developed. The plan was to celebrate every five years or so by honoring one significant Iowan, giving them this award – our state’s highest honor.
In 1951, the first Iowa Award was given to President Herbert Hoover of West Branch, Iowa. Click here to read more about President Hoover.
Four years later, in 1955, the award went to Jay N. (Ding) Darling, political cartoonist for The Des Moines Register from 1906-1949. Darling, during his career, won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work (1924 and 1943). Click here to read more about Ding Darling.
Since it’s inception in 1948 – The Iowa Award has been given out 25 times, with the latest being 2018. Below, you will find all 25 winners – and when we’ve written more on that person, you’ll find a link to our post as well. Enjoy!
1951 – President Herbert Hoover – engineer, humanitarian, author, and U.S. President. Click here for more. 1955 – Jay N. “Ding” Darling – cartoonist, conservationist, Pulitzer Prize winner. Click here for more. 1961 – Dr. Frank Spedding – educator , chemist, worked on the first atomic bomb. 1961 – Dr. James Van Allen – educator, physicist, rocket space exploration. Click here for more.
1966 – Henry A. Wallace – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Vice President of the United States. 1970 – Mamie Eisenhower – First Lady, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. 1975 – Dr. Karl King – composer, bandmaster. Click here for more. 1978 – Dr. Norman Borlaug – crop geneticist, worked to end world hunger, Nobel Peace Prize winner.
1988 – Meredith Willson – composer, musician. Click here for more.
1980 – Monsignor Luigi Liguitti – director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference. 1984 – George Gallup – founder of the Gallup Poll. Click here for more. 1992 – Carrie Chapman Catt – leader in suffrage movement and for world peace. Click here for more. 1996 – Simon Estes – international opera singer. Click here for more.
1999 – Maurice Lasansky – artist, educator. 1999 – John Astanasoff – physicist, mathematician, educator , inventor of the first electronic digital computer. 2001 – John Ruan – innovative entrepreneur , philanthropist, World Food Prize sponsor. 2002 – George Washington Carver – internationally renowned scientist and humanitarian. Click here for more.
2005 – Robert D. Ray – Governor, statesman, mayor, university president, lawyer, and insurance executive. 2006 – Harry Hopkins – founder of WPA programs under Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Click here for more. 2009 – Grant Wood – artist. Click here for more. 2010 – William C. “Bill” Knapp – philanthropist, business and community leader.
2012 – Richard “Dick” O. Jacobson – transportation pioneer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. 2014 – Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn – diplomat and humanitarian. 2016 – John Pappajohn – entrepreneur, business leader, and philanthropist. 2018 – Robert N. Noyce – physicist, entrepreneur, and inventor.
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.