March 10, 2010
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Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the March 4 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Photography enthusiast and University of Iowa alumnus Bob Rasmus tells stories without saying a word.
Through a 53-image exhibit at the Betty Strong Encounter Center in Sioux City, titled “Touchdown Iowa!,” Rasmus chronicles a 23-year span of University of Iowa football from 1985-2008. The exhibit opened Nov. 15 and runs through March 31.
“Games bring people together,” said Marcia Poole, director of the Encounter Center. “This has been a terrific way to illuminate the history and heritage of the Hawkeye state. This exhibit continues to tell the story of our heritage and how we live together as diverse people through Hawkeye football.”
Rasmus graduated from LeMars Central High School in 1952 after spending many years living in Slayton, Minn. In the fall of 1952 he began studying in the UI college of pharmacy before switching to the college of dentistry. Rasmus received a doctor of dental surgery degree in 1958 and a master’s degree in orthodontics in 1968. He practiced orthodontics for approximately 30 years in Sioux City before retiring in 1998.
“The University of Iowa means everything to me,” said Rasmus, who turns 76 on March 14. “It has been my gateway. No one in my family had gone to college before me. Iowa opened the door for me.”
Rasmus, the current president of the Siouxland I-Club, met his wife, Kaye, when both were seniors in high school. They married in 1959 and have a daughter, Emily, and grandchildren Nicholas and Abby.
Rasmus became interested in photography as a youngster. He played high school sports, including football, before enrolling at the UI. When he first arrived in Iowa City, Rasmus lived on the same floor in Hillcrest with Hawkeye football icons Jerry Hilgenberg, Cal Jones and Eddie Vincent. He enjoyed competition, but always was more interested in photographing the action.
Rasmus continued taking photographs while in the Navy, but it didn’t become more than a passive hobby until 1980 when nearby Morningside College needed assistance with photography. He has also shot for Creighton University, the Sioux City Relays and of course, the UI. Rasmus has been published in the Sioux City Journal and the Sporting News, as well as various UI sports posters, media guides and publications.
“I’m grandpa out there (among the photographers) anymore,” Rasmus said, with a laugh. “It’s the being there that really excites me. I’m not in the stands, I’m not watching on TV, I’m there recording it. I admire great photographers. They have a gift for capturing a story in just a single image. The story doesn’t have to be a game-winning touchdown. It can be a profile of an individual player, but there’s always a story. That’s what I want to show with my work.”
On football game days, Rasmus can been seen using Nikon D3 and D300 camera bodies with up to three lenses. Like most photographers, he has not been immune to accidental physical scrapes with the athletes. Rasmus said he has survived many close calls, but couldn’t avoid Hawkeye wide receiver Billy Happel on one particular occasion.
“I’m grandpa out there (among the photographers) anymore. It’s the being there that really excites me. I’m not in the stands, I’m not watching on TV, I’m there recording it. I admire great photographers. They have a gift for capturing a story in just a single image. The story doesn’t have to be a game-winning touchdown. It can be a profile of an individual player, but there’s always a story. That’s what I want to show with my work.”
UI alumnus Bob Rasmus
“He went out for a pass that took him through the end zone,” Rasmus recalls. “I wasn’t looking that way and he ran over me.”
Rasmus — and his camera equipment — survived the collision.
Rasmus says most of his images are taken from a “sports information standpoint” of profiling and isolating the individual players for photographs that could be used on a player’s biography page in a media guide. One of his favorite images on display is a diving touchdown reception by wide receiver Ed Hinkel against Iowa State in 2004. Some of the photographs are of Hawkeyes from his beloved Sioux City high schools: defensive lineman Jon LaFleur (Bishop Heelan), offensive tackle Dave Croston (East) and tight end Zeron Flemister (West). Rasmus has hundreds of images of current Hawkeye running back Brandon Wegher (Bishop Heelan), but no photographs from the 2009 season are included in “Touchdown Iowa!.”
Also for viewing are images of Dallas Clark making a reception against Wisconsin, Shonn Greene running away from a Northwestern defender, Brandon Myers hauling in a catch against Illinois and many, many more, including one of the more popular frames in the exhibit — a photograph of the 1986 UI coaching staff.
“Touchdown Iowa!” was edited and printed under the direction of Fr. Don Doll, S.J., and Carole McCabe of Magis Productions, Creighton University. Doll is the Encounter Center’s photo consultant.
Although Rasmus has numerous black and white images as well, this display includes exclusively color prints. There will be a silent auction for the photographs when the exhibit is over, in an attempt to recover costs of making the prints.
Rasmus still drives the nearly 640-mile roundtrip journey to Kinnick Stadium and back on fall Saturdays, snapping the camera shutter more than 300 times, to document the Hawkeye program. He has been credentialed ever since the 1983 season, when he remembers then-sports information director George Wine wondering why a dentist wanted a photo pass.
“Since 1999, I’ve worked in digital and my life has changed for the better,” Rasmus said. “I still sometimes wonder why I get up at 5 a.m. to go off and shoot a game. I’m just compelled to do it. It’s part of my life.”
The Betty Strong Encounter Center and adjoining Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center comprise a private, non-profit cultural complex built and sustained by Missouri River Historical Development, Inc. The Encounter Center is open noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
The Center is located on the Missouri Riverfront, exit 149 off I-29. Admission is free. For more information call 712-224-5242 or visit www.siouxcitylcic.com.