The mark in history left by Nile Kinnick is legendary.
A standout athlete at Adel High School, Kinnick went on to stardom on the football field at the University of Iowa.
Not only did Kinnick win the 1939 Heisman Trophy, given annually to the player deemed most outstanding in college football, he made a “sweep” of major awards that season, also earning the Maxwell Award, given by sportswriters and the NCAA to the best football player in the country, and the Walter Camp Award, given by a vote of head coaches and sports information directors to the best player of the year.
Those awards alone tell of Kinnick’s prowess on the gridiron, but he became an even greater hero after losing his life in a 1943 training flight during World War II.
Even after his death, awards mounted for the Adel native and grandson of Iowa’s two-term Gov. George Washington Clark of Adel.
The University of Iowa re-named its football arena Kinnick Stadium and a huge statue of Kinnick stands outside the stadium and his Heisman Trophy is on display at the Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame.
An image of Kinnick is on one side of the official Big Ten Conference coin flipped before every conference game.
Now, a drive is underway to raise funds for a Nile Kinnick wing to be built at the Adel Historical Museum, 1129 Main St.
Many believe a building to honor Kinnick in his hometown is long overdue.
“Van Meter has the Bob Feller Museum and the Waukee Library has an entire win honoring (former Major League pitcher) Hal
“It’s time Adel honors Kinnick,” said Jan Price of the Adel Museum.
To that end, a fund drive has begun locally with a goal of raising $70,000 to construct an addition to the Adel Museum.
Plans have been drawn for an 840-square-foot extension on the south side of the building.
More than $10,000 has been raised. All donations are through the City of Adel, making them tax-deductible donations.
While Kinnick’s legacy will be the main focus of the new addition to the museum, Price noted that the addition will also include plenty of artifacts of his famous grandfat her, as well.
“We believe that Gov. Clark should be honored along with his grandson in the new addition,” Price said.
Other historical Adel people may also be included.
Kinnick was born in Adel on July 9, 1918 and was a three-sport standout at Adel High School, excelling not only in football, but in baseball and basketball as well.
As a junior quarterback, he led Adel to an unbeaten season in 1933 and the team was crowned the mythical Iowa state champion.
A football signed by Kinnick and his 1933 teammates is proudly displayed in the trophy case at Adel-DeSoto-Minburn High School.
Like many American’s the Kinnick family’s fortunes took a turn for the worse during The Great Depression. Many farms were lost and the Kinnick family moved to Omaha where Nile’s father found employment.
Just as he had in Adel, Kinnick left a lasting athletic impression at Omaha Benson High School.
Although Kinnick is remembered for his athletic prowess, he was also an outstanding student. He was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar and was voted president of his senior class at the University of Iowa.
Those desiring to donate to the Kinnick addition should make checks payable to: City of Adel—Museum Addition.
They can be sent to Adel City Hall, 301 S. 10th St., Adel 50003, or may be dropped off at City Hall during normal business hours.