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Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Founder, Don Gooder, Passes

Posted: September 24th, 2019

CRESCO - Donald “Don” Edward Gooder, age 86, of Cresco, Iowa, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, at Evans Memorial Home surrounded by his family.A Mass of Christian burial will be held at Notre Dame Catholic Church on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at 11 a.m. with Father Jacob Rouse officiating. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be held at Notre Dame Church on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 4-8 p.m., followed by a prayer service. Visitation will continue at the Church beginning at 9:30 a.m. prior to the service on Friday. Hindt-Hudek Funeral Home is assisting the family.
Don was born on Aug. 31, 1933, to Niles and Ruth (Slifka) Gooder in Waterloo, Iowa, and was raised by a single mother, his grandmother and two uncles. He graduated from Cresco High School in 1951, served in the United States Marines, and married Rose Ella “Rosie” Slifka on Sept. 19, 1953, at Assumption Catholic Church in Cresco.
Though Don was raised in town, he and Rosie began their marriage with a short stint in farming. This was the first of a long list of entrepreneurial endeavors related to agriculture, real estate and business development in which Don pursued his desire to succeed.
Influenced by many people in the Cresco community as a young man, he enjoyed crediting much of his success to the guidance he received from numerous local mentors including Arnie Kratz, Neil McKone, Bob Howard, Ralph Fitzgerald and George Laub, as well as many others who all shared a passion for Cresco’s success. Don loved his community and wanted it to thrive, creating phrases such as “Cresco, the heart of the nation,” meaning every word.
At the age of 29, he purchased a Ford franchise in Cresco, later building it into a “state of the art” dealership. During this time, Don’s interests and involvements included stock cars, snowmobiles and quarter midget racing with the boys. In 1972 Don and Rosie decided to pursue farming, when a family farm in Vernon Springs was listed for sale. In character, Don went against the grain, deciding to focus on a commercial sheep operation, which over time evolved into purebred Columbia and Rambouillet sheep flocks. The success of this enterprise led to winning Premier Breeder at the International Livestock Exposition five times along with numerous other awards and recognitions. In addition, Don earned his broker license to pursue his life-long interest in real estate. For decades he held the Iowa state record for the largest farm land transaction.
In the early 1970s, Don helped found Cresco Industrial Development Corporation (CIDC), became its first director and helped to lead the growth of Cresco industry to an all-time high. A few of the businesses included Donaldson, ADS Plastics, and other businesses throughout the county.
Cresco’s reputation as one of the country’s leading trailer manufacturing centers is the direct result of the couple’s successful sheep business because of their need to transport sheep to eastern markets. Realizing the potential of aluminum livestock trailers, Don convinced Roy Culp to partner with him to build the Featherlite plant. Don told him, “I will take every trailer you can build.” As a result, Don Gooder Distributing became the nation’s largest dealer of aluminum stock and horse trailers for many years. In years to come, this business evolved into Alum-Line, which from the start has involved two of his sons. Don’s business legacy in Cresco lives on.
In retirement, the couple owned a second home on the Mississippi River in Guttenburg, Iowa, where he was again developing real estate including retail buildings and homes.
Throughout his life, Don enjoyed pushing boundaries, taking risks and leading by example. This “no fear” attitude led to his development of numerous professional and community ventures. In part this included Heritage Supper Club, Sport Hut, founding of Driftrunners and Snow Fest, Ag Fest and leadership involvement with community organizations such as Jaycees, Centennial Committee, Chamber, Church Council, Hospital Board, Historical Society, Fair Board, and the list goes on.
He is well-known for his passion and connection to amateur wrestling. Attendance at the NCAA Division I Championship started with him and friends following Cresco native, Tom Peckham’s notable career. As a testament to Don’s love for the sport of wrestling, he was the last surviving founder of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Don was known for his one-of-a-kind personality, relentless work ethic, commitment to excellence, affectionate humor and living life to its fullest. His crowning achievements however, are exemplified in his devotion to family and friends, and his life-long love and commitment to his wife of 66 years, Rosie. As he loved to say, “Enough said!”
Don is survived by his wife, Rosie of Cresco; children, Patrick (Becky) Gooder of Decorah, Iowa and their children, Shay Gooder, Chris (Coletta) Gooder and children, Adelina, Leo, and Judelyn and Dakota (Bryce) Hruska and daughter, Arietta; Michael (Rachel) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Abby (Dan) Inglis and son, Wyatt, and John (Molly) Gooder and daughter, Ella; Gary (Sara) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Sydney Gooder-Hayes and children, Paxton and Summer, Josie (Brian) Hrdlicka and daughter, Maelyn, and Sierra Gooder; Lee (Jill) Gooder of Cresco and their children, Shelley (Joe) Marshall and Zach (Katie) Gooder and daughter, Autumn; and Gay Duroe of Cresco. He is also survived by a brother, Ross “Bill” Gooder of Cresco.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Niles and Ruth; a son in infancy, John Gooder; and son-in-law, Michael Duroe.
Donations can be made in Don’s name to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Condolences may be left online at
Thank you to the Times Plain Dealer
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Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Announces 2019 Inductees

Posted: March 14th, 2019

Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Announces 2019 Inductees

Posted: March 14th, 2019

CRESCO, IA:  Four outstanding individuals who’ve contributed mightily to the sport of wrestling will be inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco on Monday, April 8th.  The 50th Annual Awards Banquet and Induction Ceremony will begin with a 5:30 social hour followed by a 6:30 banquet at the Cresco Country Club south of Cresco. Those being inducted Don Buzzard (posthumous), Joe Corso, Gary Steffensmeier and Jesse Whitmer.  Also being recognized will be Dale Bahr.  Bahr was inducted into the IWHOF in 1988, but was unable to attend that induction ceremony and banquet.   The Board of Directors thought the 50th anniversary banquet would be an appropriate time to recognize Bahr as an inductee.

Don Buzzard was a two-time state champion for Waterloo East(1963, 1964). Buzzard went on to Iowa State University where he was a two-time NCAA runner-up at 191 pounds.  As a sophomore Buzzard won the 191 pound Midlands Championship.  Buzzard coached at Jesup before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Iowa (1973-1974). During his competitive career Buzzard only lost a total of nine matches.

Joe Corso won a state title for West Des Moines Valley at113 pounds in 1971.  After winning a bronze medal in the NCAA championships for Purdue, Corso continued his career in freestyle wrestling where he excelled. Corso went on to be a ten-time national freestyle champion, placed third in the World Championships of 1978 and was the 1979 Pan-American Games champion.  Corso was also on the 1980Olympic team and an alternate in 1984.  Corso is still coaching and has had a long history with the Sunkist Wrestling Club.

Steffensmeier wrestled at Fort Madison for Hall of Fame coach Mick Pickford.  Steffensmeier was the Bloodhounds first two-time state champion and their first four-time state tournament medalist. Steffensmeir won titles in 1986 at 112 lbs and in 1987 at119 lbs. He capped his senior year with a perfect 32-0 record.  Steffensmeier went to the University of Northern Iowa where he was a three-time Division I All-American with a runner-up and two fourth place finishes. He finished with a collegiate record of 115-29-3.

Jessie Whitmer was a four-time medalist and a one-time state champion for Eagle Grove High School. Whitmer then went to the University of Iowa where he was able to break into the starting line up as a 118 pound senior.  Whitmer was one of five national champions for the storied 1997 squad that broke the record for number of points scored at the tournament (170).

Dale Bahr was a two-time state champion for Iowa Falls high school, wrestling for Gary Kurdelmeier.  Under Harold Nichols at Iowa State, Bahr won the 145 lb. national championship as a senior.   He was a two-time All American before winning his national title. Bahr then went on to a successful coaching career where he ended up as head coach for the University of Michigan from 1978-99.

Banquet tickets are available at the Cresco Chamber of Commerce (563-547-3434) or CIA Insurance in Cresco (563-547-2382). Tickets are $25 and advance registration is required.

The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame’s sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. The IWHOF has a rich history of honoring native Iowans at our annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. The inaugural banquet was held in 1970. When we conclude the 50th annual awards banquet on April 08, 2019, our roster of inductees will included 133 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling. 

Visit our website at

The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame is located in the Cresco Welcome Center at the intersection of Highway 9 and Elm Street. The Hall of Fame is open 9-5 daily. 

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2019 IA-MN Border Battle Results

Posted: March 12th, 2019
On the strength of 6 falls, MN defeated IA in the 18th IWHOF IA-MN Border Battle.  The meet took place on Friday March 8th, in Cresco.  IA won 9 of the 17 bouts, but MN wrestled away the win with those 6 falls.  A feature match in bout 14 pitted IA's Michael Egan against MN's Carter Marx.  Both are 2x state medalists.  In a highly competitive match, Marx came out on top, in overtime, 3-2.  The match lived up to it's billing!  With the win, MN tied the series 9-9.
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IWHOF Banquet

Posted: April 09, 2018
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame's sole purpose is the promotion of amateur wrestling in Iowa. Open to the public, April 9, 2018 is the Banquet and Induction Ceremony. Call 563.547.3434 to reserve your tickets.

We have a rich history of honoring native Iowans at our annual awards banquet and induction ceremony. The original banquet was held in 1970. When we concluded the 48th annual awards banquet on April 10, 2017, at the Cresco Country Club, our roster of inductees included 125 outstanding individuals for their contributions to amateur wrestling.
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IWHOF Inductee Bill Smith Passes

Posted: March 22nd, 2018
1972 IWHOF inductee Bill Smith passed away Tuesday March 20 at the age of 89.
Thanks to Mark Palmer, InterMat Senior Staff Writer, for allowing us to post this article Mark wrote about Bill Smith for InterMat.
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IWHOF Announces 2018 Inductees

Posted: March 20th, 2018
The Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Cresco, has announced the 2018 inductees.  They are Steve Hamilton, Shane Light, Kirk Myers and Lennie Zalesky.  The 49th annual banquet is set for Monday April 9th.  Social hour starts at 5:30, dinner at 6:30 with the Induction ceremony following. 
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Border Battle

Posted: March 09, 2018
Friday, March 9th is the annual Border Battle hosted by the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Tickets $6.00/person.
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2012 Inductee Gene Doyle (1940-2018)

Posted: January 17th, 2018
The Board of Directors of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of 2012 inductee Gene Doyle.  Gene passed away Sunday January 14th, 2018. 
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IWHOF Board Member Hruska Honored

Posted: December 12th, 2017
IWHOF Board Member Jerome Hruska was recently inducted into the Creston Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Hruska was inducted along with Dylan Long and the 1972 Creston wrestling team.  Hruska coached at Creston from 1969-1979.  See attached story from the Creston News Advertiser.
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Flanagan, Kettman Inducted into Brand WHOF of IA

Posted: June 26th, 2017
Legendary coaches Chris Flanagan and Tom Kettman were inducted into the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa on Saturday June 24th.  The Brand WHOF is located in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Waterloo.  Along with family members, Flanagan was represented by some current members of the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Directors.  The IWHOF is located in Cresco, where Flanagan coached.   Flanagan coached many of the current board members.

Pictured in front are Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame Members Sandy Stevens, Dan Gable, Chuck Yagla and Bob Siddens.  In back are Jim Sovereign and IWHOF board members Jerome Hruska and Chuck Curtis.
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