Iowa Hall of Pride director, deceased civil rights ally to receive Bell Tower of Fame Awards

Jack Lashier and the late Vernon Eagle to be honored

Leaders oftentimes are characterized with words like passion, commitment, vision, and tenacity and the two 2017 Bell Tower of Fame Award recipients represent those words well.

Jack Lashier

For Jack Lashier, a 1966 graduate of Jefferson High School (now Greene County High School), vision and commitment were paramount as he developed the Iowa Hall of Pride, a $13 million facility at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, showcasing the achievements of notable Iowans – from student athletes and musicians to thespians, journalists, Olympic champions and coaches.

Lashier was hired by Iowa High School Athletic Association executive director Bernie Saggau in 1996 as director of special projects to create and develop the hall to pay tribute to all high school activities in an interactive, engaging way using the latest technology.

Lashier toured the state to collect information about high school student achievements. He expanded the vision for the hall to showcase outstanding Iowans in all walks of life. For exhibits, he has interviewed many celebrities of Iowa including singer Simon Estes, piano player Roger Williams, astronaut Peggy Whitson, and NBA star Harrison Barnes and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson.

Lashier is the founding director of the hall and for the past 12 years he and his staff have created the “Best Field Trip Ever.” Thousands of adults and children from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries have visited the hall in Des Moines to have an interactive experience that builds an appreciation for Iowans.

Lashier, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, is also the creator and host of the state’s annual All-Iowa Trivia Bee that is heard live on the highly-rated Van and Bonnie Show on WHO Radio and broadcast to millions of listeners.

Lashier and his wife Kathy reside in Des Moines and have two grown children.

The Bell Tower of Fame Award recognizes people whose personal or professional accomplishments internationally, nationally or statewide, bring great pride to Greene County. They must have resided in Greene County for a period during their lifetimes.

Vernon Eagle

For 1940 Jefferson High School graduate Vernon Eagle, tenacity played a key role in his life. A common man of humble beginnings, Eagle joined the Iowa National Guard while still a high school senior and then joined Britain’s Number 6 Commando unit and saw military action in Norway, France and North Africa. Stories of his bravery in raiding Nazi camps became national news and he was sought after for war bond drives and patriotic rallies. After the war, he became an officer of Hanover Bank in London and New York. He was also national treasurer of the American Veterans Committee.

Eagle joined the New World Foundation in New York City in 1957 as its executive director and treasurer. Under Eagle’s direction, the foundation was in the vanguard of liberal New York foundations supporting civil rights programs and organizations in the South. His foundation’s grants had a major influence on the bigger and more conservative foundations, like the Carnegie and Rockefeller organizations, to back civil rights efforts.

The foundation made pioneering grants for the Voter Registration Project which resulted in more than 5,000 black voters becoming registered. Eagle also made grants to the NAACP Legal Defense and later to the Children’s Defense Fund. The CDF’s first report issued in 1974, “Children Out of School in America” was dedicated to Eagle’s memory.

Eagle was also director and treasurer of the Harrison-Blaine corporations of New York and New Jersey, a director and secretary of the Old Republic Charitable Foundation of Washington, a director and treasurer of the Initial Teaching Alphabet Foundation of New York and a director and treasurer of the Cooperative Assistance Fund of Washington.

Eagle, a resident of New York City, died in 1974 at the age of 54. He is survived by three grown children.

Lashier and Eagle’s daughter, Mary Stuyvesant Eagle, will be presented with the awards during the Bell Tower Festival’s opening ceremonies Friday, June 9, at 6:30 pm on the plaza stage south of the Greene County courthouse in Jefferson. A public reception for the recipients will be held in the courthouse rotunda following the ceremony until 8:30 pm.

They will be grand marshals of the Bell Tower Festival parade on Saturday, June 10.

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