2016 in Memoriam

Jan 5, 2017

2016 marked the passing of men and women who significantly contributed to Iowa. Artists, public servants, historians, broadcasters--all helped shape Iowa in the years they spent on Earth. On this hour of River to River, we remember just a few of the many notable Iowans who died last year.

Jennie Wolnernan, 91, one of the last survivors of the Holocaust in Iowa, died January 9th.

Carlos Puente-Morales, 34, and Susan Farrell, 30, Des Moines police officers, were killed in the line of duty when they were hit head-on while transporting a prisoner on March 26th.

Bob Brooks, 89, a prominent commentator in Iowa sports media, who broadcast Hawkeye sports for 57 years, died on June 25th.

Daniel Lehn, 58, a professor of psychology at Coe College, was killed when he was hit by a truck while bicycling on July 19th.

Wayne Ezell, 72, a RAGBRAI rider from Florida, was killed when he was hit by a truck during the early morning of the event’s first day on July 24th.

James Alan McPherson, 72, a longtime professor in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Pulitzer Prize winning fiction writer died on July 27th.

Shawn Miller, 47, West Des Moines police officer was killed in the line of duty when his motorcycle collided with a car on August 3rd.

Gene Wilder, 83, the University of Iowa graduate who went on to become a comedic film star in such movies as “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles,” died on August 29th. 

W.P. Kinsella, 81, the University of Iowa Writers Workshop graduate who perhaps did more for tourism in the state than anyone else thanks to his novel “Shoeless Joe,” which was converted into the movie “Field of Dreams,” died on September 19th.

Janey Hooper, member of the Iowa Jazz and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames, and an iconic Des Moines-area musician for more than 40 years, died on October 15th.

Dan Johnston, 77, the attorney who won the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Tinker vs. Des Moines Schools, died on October 21st.

Tony Beminio, 38, a Des Moines police sergeant, and Justin Martin, 24, an Urbandale police officer, were shot and killed in separate attacks on November 2nd.

Special thanks to Rob Dillard.