Remembering President Hoover

Oct 25, 2014

He was an engineer, a Quaker, and president of the United States. Fifty years ago today the only native Iowan to occupy in the White House was buried at his birthplace in West Branch. We reflect back on Herbert Hoover with historical recordings

The state’s most famous public servant died at the age of 90, and thousands of Iowans watched his final return home on this date in 1964.

“It is likely that the bare feet of a boy who was orphaned at ten, but went on to become one of the world’s great men, skipped over this very ground as he headed for the nearby creek where he swam in the summertime.”

Grant Price was among the reporters providing live coverage.

"We switch now to the Cedar Rapids Airport and WMT newsman Martin Jensen. The turbo prop of the big plane carrying Mr. Hoover’s body making a great deal of noise as it approaches us.”

As our 31st president, Hoover’s legacy is uneven, as noted by early broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

"The figure of Herbert Hoover has become a kind of fixture, albeit a controversial one, in the turbulent sweep of world history in which we now live. Herbert Hoover has been denounced as a stuffy high-collared reactionary, extolled as an enlightened elder statesman of American conservatism.”

Hoover was blamed for prolonging the Great Depression, but praised as a world humanitarian, an effective Commerce Secretary and for pushing ahead on the Hoover Dam. Biographer George Nash.

“He was really I think one of the three or four most influential men in American public life in the 1920s. Here was Hoover, who never held another elective office in his life, going from a low-ranking cabinet post to the president of the United States in about seven years.”

“America means more than a continent bounded by two oceans, it means more than a vast expanse of farms…”  

In 1948, Hoover returned home to West Branch, where Iowans honored his 74th birthday.

“America is a land of self-respect, and self-respect is born alone of free men and free women. I again express my appreciation and deep gratitude to you all.”

The Hoover surname remains attached to public schools, a national wilderness area in California, the federal Commerce Building in Washington, and even in outer space; four asteroids bare his name. He will be remembered this afternoon at the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, where he was laid to rest 50 years ago. For Iowa Archives, I’m Rick Fredericksen Iowa Public Radio News.