Bill Quinby remembers his shock and sadness when he heard about the death of Nile Kinnick.
“We didn’t have TV then. I remember (former Gazette sports editor) Tait Cummins wrote a very warm summary after his death,” said Quinby, 77, a former NFL official who returned to Cedar Rapids after his retirement.
“It was pretty sad then. And this is very, very sad now.”
Quinby was refering to Wednesday’s death of Ed Thomas, the Aplington-Parkersburg football coach that was shot to death at the school’s weight room.
Mark Becker of Parkersburg was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Kinnick was the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Iowa, who died as a Naval officer in 1943 when he was forced to ditch his plane that had developed an oil leak off the coast of Venezuela.
Cummins wrote: “Kinnick proved one thing, that college athletics could be beautiful. Everything that can be said that is good about college athletics he was. He didn’t represent it…he was it.”
Kinnick was the most famous Iowan involved in athletics to die before their time. Thomas was the most recent. Here’s a partial list of those who passed prematurely: