The city of Adel celebrated Nile Kinnick’s 100th birthday Saturday, July 7.
The day started with a private ribbon cutting at the Adel Historical Museum, which features a large display on Nile Kinnick and former Governor George W. Clarke.
The museum project began about six years ago when the save the bridge foundation decided to end their project and donate $10,000 to Jan Price, director of the museum. Price put the money to use by honoring two significant people in Adel history.
“There were a lot of pictures and information about the governor and about Nile,” Price said. “So I just thought having two famous people … would be important to feature (them) and to show the important things in their lives - what they did, what they gave to Adel and Iowa and the world.”
Clarke served two terms as Iowa’s 21st governor from 1913-17. After earning a law degree from the University of Iowa, he moved to Adel where he started a family. He was the grandfather of Nile Kinnick.
Kinnick grew up in Adel. He attended the University of Iowa where he played football and was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1939. After college, Kinnick joined the U.S. Navy. He died in a training flight during World War II at the age of 24. The University of Iowa renamed their football stadium Kinnick Stadium in 1972.
The museum will officially open in the fall, but can be visited now by appointment.
“It’s been a labor of love. We’ve been working on it a very long time,” Price said. “I just appreciate all that donated money so we could have this vision accomplished.”
Following the ribbon cutting, birthday cake was served at the Adel Pavilion, where a bust of Kinnick was on display.
The bust was sculpted by Dora Mason in 1940. Mason and Kinnick became friends at the University of Iowa. The bust was originally sculpted out of clay and then later was cast in bronze.
Herky and the Hawkeye cheerleaders were present to take photos with all who attended the event. Also at the birthday celebration was T. Lidd, the author of “Nile,” and Joe Heath, producer of the upcoming movie “The Ironmen.”