‘Made citizens feel proud’

Former Marshalltownian Jack Lashier to receive Jefferson’s prestigious Bell Tower of Fame award

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Former Marshalltownian Jack Lashier is pictured by a six-girl basketball exhibit featuring Clutier at the Iowa Hall of Pride.

JEFFERSON — Former Marshalltown resident, businessman and educator Jack Lashier is going home again.

One cannot, famously said the late and esteemed author Thomas Wolfe, but Lashier is an exception.

On Friday, Lashier will receive Jefferson’s Bell Tower of Fame Award, and on Saturday, serve as the grand marshal in a parade kicking off the town’s annual Bell Tower Festival.

The award is named fittingly, for Jefferson’s famed 14-story Mahanay Bell Tower Carillon.

It is the town’s most prestigious award given annually to a former or current Greene County resident who has distinguished themselves internationally, nationally or state-wide.

The list of recipients is impressive — from renown pollster George Gallup of Jefferson to former National Football League All-Star Bryce Paup of Scranton to Joint Chiefs of Staff Logistic Director Lt. Gen. Gary Mears of Grand Junction.

“Along with garnering international, national, or state achievements, the nominee must have been a Greene County resident during his or her life and if the individual is no longer a resident, they must have some on-going connection with the county,” said Bell Tower Award Chairperson Carole Custer of Jefferson. “Former Bell Tower Festival Chairpersons comprise the selection committee and if someone was nominated in the past, but have received more accolades, then the nomination can be updated and re-submitted.”

Additionally, Custer said the purpose of the award is to inspire Jefferson youth to strive for excellence in whatever career field they wish to pursue.

“We have awardees in engineering, law, music and sports,” she said.

Custer told the Times-Republican Lashier was nominated for his work with former Executive Secretary of the Iowa High School Athletic Association Bernie Saggau in developing the Iowa Hall of Pride concept, and its subsequent management.

The $13 million, 26,000-square foot Iowa Hall of Pride in Des Moines opened in 2005 and is a testimonial to the achievements of all Iowans.

Jefferson years

Lashier spent his formative years in Jefferson — from fifth grade through senior year in high school.

“We moved to Jefferson after my dad was hired as school superintendent,” Lashier said. “Living in the town was magical — it was then a community of 4,500 — I had previously lived in a community of about 350.”

He made an impression.

“What I know about Jack is that he knows how to focus on a situation … said friend Rick Morain of Jefferson. “When Jack was working with Saggau and Saggau said we needed something like the Hall of Pride … Jack was the perfect candidate to follow through … because he could focus. He was organized. He knew the priorities and the order in which they had to be done. And he took the Hall of Pride assignment and ran with it. (Jack) is the single most important person in Iowa in connection with the Hall of Pride. It has not been an artifact. He helped develop it, and he has continued to add more interactive exhibits. I am pleased he is getting the award.”

Joe Jongewaard of Des Moines said he became acquainted with Lashier in fifth grade, and continued as friends when they graduated from high school in 1966.

“I knew Jack in school and in church,” Jongewaard said. “I think Jack receiving the Bell Tower Award is exciting and well deserved. Jack has distinguished himself as executive director with the Hall of Pride … he took that from a concept … persisted through a long development process and turned it into reality … a real gem for the state. He has done a terrific job. He has made his classmates, and citizens of Jefferson proud.”

Marshalltown years

Lashier spent 29 years in Marshalltown.

He arrived in 1970 with a education degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

He worked as a teacher, served as local United Way director and as RACOM sales manager before Saggau enticed him with the Iowa Hall of Pride idea.

He and his wife moved to Boone in 1999.

“I have come back to Marshalltown quite often over the past 18 years,” he said. “We still have friends in Marshalltown and several times I have been asked to do programs for service clubs, primarily Rotary. I do not have a firm date to return, but it is only 45 minutes away … so if there is something one would like me to do, I certainly would be open to doing it. The last time I was in Marshalltown was for the dedication of George Funk Court in the (Marshalltown High School) Roundhouse. I guess that was awhile ago, but I love coming back and seeing old friends.”

This weekend and more

Earlier this year Lashier, 70, announced he was retiring from his post at the Iowa Hall of Pride to join his son in business.

“Tonight I have a retirement party at the Iowa Hall of Pride with friends, supporters and my entire family coming from all over the United States to be a part,” Lashier said.” I have two sons and their wives, six grandchildren, a brother, two sisters and my 93-year old mother attending. They are all going to be with me all weekend in Jefferson for that celebration too and so my feeling right now is surreal! I can’t believe this is happening to me in this way. I know it is to honor the work I have done to help make Iowa a better place to live. The funny part is that I have loved the journey! I am so appreciative the people who know me are honoring me.”