Another Medal Caps Gable’s Golden Career

The Iowa wrestling icon headlines the UIAA’s latest Distinguished Alumni Awards class.


The memories flooded back for Dan Gable when he leaned forward to receive a medal from University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld earlier this month.

“It’s been a few years,” said the Olympic wrestling gold medalist on the Hancher Auditorium stage, where he accepted his Distinguished Alumni Award medallion. “The last time I had one of these around my neck like this, I lost it within an hour.”

Former Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable speaks June 10 during the Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony at Hancher Auditorium. Photo: Helaina Thompson, UI Office of Strategic Communication.

As the Iowa coaching legend explains in his 2015 autobiography, A Wrestling Life, he misplaced his Olympic gold shortly after standing atop the podium for the national anthem at the 1972 Munich Summer Games. Once he had taken a few pictures with the prize, he tossed it in his gym bag and hit the showers. But when he left the locker room, the medal was nowhere to be found.

A short time later, his mother—whom Gable described as a “real Sherlock Holmes working the case”—discovered that the medal had slipped beneath his bag’s previously undetected false bottom.

Gable didn’t make the same mistake after the Hancher ceremony, which honored 15 UI alumni, faculty, and friends spanning an array of professions—from medicine to business to coaching.

Although Gable wrestled collegiately at Iowa State University, it was his 20 seasons as head coach at Iowa—and the dynasty he established with 15 NCAA team titles—that made his name synonymous with the Hawkeyes and the sport of wrestling. “I love the fact that I’m winning awards for winning awards,” Gable said to big laughs.

Fifteen alumni, faculty, and friends received the UIAA’s Distinguished Alumni Award on June 10 at Hancher Auditorium. Photo: Helaina Thompson, UI Office of Strategic Communication.

Here are the other recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards—the UI Alumni Association’s highest honors as selected annually by its board of directors. Follow the link for each to watch their full remarks from the ceremony.

• Health care executive Stephen Corbeil, 84MA: “With one of the premier health management programs in the country, Hawkeye leaders will play a leading role in the future of shaping our health care industry.”

• Journalist Phil Currie, 62BA: “Today our media are under attack from many quarters. Some criticism is deserved, but I spent decades working in journalism, and I know how hard so many men and women work to serve as watchdogs for democracy.”

• Mayo Clinic professor Rosebud Roberts, 90MS: “I have many fond memories of Iowa City. It was the first city we lived in when we arrived in the United States. There were people from all over the world, so we quickly felt at home.”

• Entrepreneur Margaret “Peg” Stessman, 84BSN, 12MBA: “Graduating from the College of Nursing gave me the strength and gave me the foundation. Five years ago, I graduated from the College of Business and it further enhanced my capacity to be an entrepreneur and believe I can make a difference.”

• Former Wall Street analyst Kevin Gruneich, 80BBA: “To paraphrase Horace Mann: Education is the great equalizer. My wish would be that we could give all those the opportunity that I had.”

• Attorney and UI Grant Wood Art Colony developer James P. Hayes, 64JD: “It would be my wish and my dream that Grant Wood’s name and American Gothic and the rest of his art would be seen as synonymous with the University of Iowa.”

• College of Engineering and UI Athletics supporter Phil Mayberry, 67BSIE: “In my very first week on campus as a college freshman, I had the opportunity to meet the president of the university, Virgil Hancher. … I remember President Hancher as a very distinguished and gracious host that night, who inspired me towards the pursuit of an engineering degree.”

• U.S. House of Representatives Parliamentarian Thomas J. Wickham Jr., 90BA, 94JD: “These Iowa City monuments and milestones are as inspiring as any you may travel to Washington, D.C., to see, and I’m grateful to have had them in my life.”

• Software start-up CEO Steven Davis, 01BS, 03MS: “Right now the university is not only inspiring me to continue to achieve professionally, but it is also causing me to reflect back on all those other alumni accomplishing things so amazing that it makes me want to do more and be even better.”

• Retired UI associate dean and ombudsman Nancy Frank Hauserman, 76JD: “My dad from the time I could hold a crayon emphasized the importance of writing, and writing well.”

• Former director of the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment Nancy Humbles, 97MA: “Every single day you have an impact on the people you come in contact with, even if it’s a stranger. Make that impact a great one. Make it a positive one. Make it one that makes the difference we all yearn for.”

• Former UI IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering director V.C. Patel: “Going from Kenya to England, via India, and settling in Iowa for four decades and more, means that I found a supportive, loving, nourishing, caring place. That is the University of Iowa.”

• Retired UI senior vice president Doug True, 71BS: “It all began for me in 1967 when I began here with little more than ambition, curiosity, and an empty head. … In the four years I was here, it was a revelation. It shapes you.”

• Retired UIAA executive director Vince Nelson: “The University of Iowa is an exceptionally outstanding university, and graduates leave their footprints wherever they call home. As I said during my tenure as president of the University of Iowa Alumni Association, this was an honor and privilege to serve, and I was so proud to do so.”

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