The History Center invites the community to join in on ORAL HISTORIES LIVE! offering interviews with influential members of Linn County who share their stories and preserve legacies.
Past Oral Histories
Upcoming Oral Histories
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly
September 22, 2020
Nick AbouAssaly was born in Beirut, Lebanon. At the age of nine, he immigrated with his family to Iowa to escape civil war and seek better opportunities. Nick graduated from Linn-Mar High School and attended the University of Iowa, where he earned a finance degree with honors and a law degree with distinction.
He worked as an in-house attorney for Exxon Corporation in Houston, Texas, but was eventually drawn back to Iowa by the desire to be near his family and the opportunity to live in a community where he could make a greater impact.
Since returning to the area in 1995 he has been involved in all aspects of community development and leadership in Marion and in Cedar Rapids.
He served on the Marion City Council for 2 ½ years before his election to the office of Mayor in November 2015. He began his second mayoral term on January 1, 2020.
Mayor Nick is a 29-year attorney and a partner with the law firm of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman, where he heads the real estate law department. He is included on the lists of Best Lawyers in America® and Great Plains Super Lawyers.
He has been on the Corridor Business Journal’s list of most influential people in the Corridor for three consecutive years, topping the list in 2018, and was the 2019 recipient of the National Council on Youth Leadership’s Visionary Youth Leadership Award.
He is an advocate for progress in Marion and the region.
September 29, 2020
Al Pierson is the co-owner of Pierson’s Flower Shop & Greenhouses. Al serves as board member of the Neighborhood Development Corporation, president of the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association and committee member of Westside Rising Memorial. Al previously served as president of the Society of Iowa Florists and director of FTD.
February 11, 2020
Join host Rob Cline as he interviews Luman Colton. Luman attended Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, majoring in music, instrumentals and vocals. He graduated in 1943 with a bachelors degree in school music. Luman taught instrumental band throughout Iowa, until 1957 when he became the Jefferson High School Band Director, where he retired in 1986. Luman is also a WWII veteran.
Cary J. Hahn
November 12, 2019
Cary J. Hahn began his 54-year broadcasting career on the campus radio station at Lindenwood College in his hometown of St. Charles, Missouri (20 miles west of St. Louis off I-70). After radio stints in Lincoln, Nebraska, Jefferson City and Kansas City, Missouri, he came to Iowa in 1979 to be bureau chief for KTVO-TV, Ottumwa-Kirksville.
He was the CBS 2 Iowa Traveler from 1983 to 2008, before returning to his first love…radio… as News Director for 93.1 FM &1450 KMRY Radio in Cedar Rapids.
Since 2005, he has hosted “Big Band Memories” Sunday afternoons 1 – 3 p.m. on 88.3 KCCK, Iowa’s jazz station at Kirkwood Community College.
In 2006 he was awarded the Iowa Broadcast News Association’s highest honor, the Jack Shelley Award for career achievement. As the Iowa Traveler, he told the stories of “The Hog Calling Nun”, rode the wing of a 1942 Stearman bi-plane and gave us “Interstate 380 Bowling”, along with thousands of good news stories of every day Iowans, with his credo “not everything is going to heck in a hand basket.”
Cary has won awards from the Associated Press, United Press, Iowa Broadcast News Association, Northwest Broadcast News Association, the 2004 Stanley Foundation Global Connections Award, the Iowa Film Award for feature reporting and the Iowa Motion Picture Award for general reporting, and a National Archives Certificate of Appreciation from the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum.
Cary is a Past President of the Iowa Broadcast News Association (2004-2005), a 25 year co-host at KGAN TV for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and cited by Mr. Lewis for his quarter century of supporting the organization. For many years he has been emcee for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies of the Cedar Rapids Metro Area Veteran’s Council.
A Vietnam veteran, Cary is quite proud of his four years of service in the Navy (1967-71), broadcasting for the ship’s 3,500 crew members on Armed Forces Radio and Television aboard the USS Hancock aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam and at AFRTS on the island of Kodiak, Alaska. He was credited by the ship’s captain as a “moral booster” during combat operations and by the Admiral at Kodiak for providing “much needed information and entertainment.” This was all pre-satellite media communication.
Cary and his wife Jean are St. Louis Cardinal baseball fans. They love to travel and go to concerts. He also loves the family cats, old movies, books, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, collects political campaign buttons, records and CD’s of all kinds, and for the past several years has served as the emcee of the annual Glenn Miller Birthplace Society Festival at Clarinda, Iowa each June.
August 20, 2019
For over 45 years, Lee Clancey has had a broad cross-section of leadership experiences in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and beyond. Now retired, Lee continues to spend many hours as a volunteer.
Professionally, Lee has served as President/CEO of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and also as a business consultant. Prior to that, Lee served 6 years as Mayor of Cedar Rapids. In addition, Lee has worked as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Iowa, as the first Executive Director of the Renaissance Group (now Downtown District), as a Business & Industry Training Coordinator for Kirkwood Community College and taught English at Linn Mar High School. Lee is also a published author of a children’s book called A Bale of Turtles.
Lee has also had extensive and significant volunteer leadership experience at the local, state and national levels. Lee is a founding member of 50-50 in 2020, a statewide organization committed to achieving political equity for women in Iowa; a founding member of 100+ Corridor Women Who Care (now 100+ Who Care); was co-chair of the Blue Zones Power 9 Board; and currently is on the Oversight and Steering Committees of the ConnectCR project. Lee has just completed 6 years as President of a 510 unit Homeowners Association.
Lee and her husband, Jay, have 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law, and 3 grandchildren all of whom live in the Los Angeles area.
Anne Harris Carter
June 6, 2019
Anne Carter has more than twenty-five years of experience in corporate leadership in the retail, banking, and energy sectors. She currently serves as Director – Diversity and Inclusion at Alliant Energy, a Midwest utility with nearly 4000 employees and 1.4 million customers. She has also held Director Roles in Energy Efficiency and Recruitment at Alliant.
A graduate of Yale, Anne conceived and created diversity strategy roles at two corporations, including the former May Department Stores. Prior to serving as Vice President of Diversity at May’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, she held positions in merchandising, stores, and operations, including Vice President of Merchandise Information Systems for the Kaufmann’s operating division, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Anne, who was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is dedicated to community service. She is a board member for Unity Point Health~St. Luke’s Foundation and Orchestra Iowa. She co-chairs the Madison Region Economic Partnership Leadership and Diversity workgroup in Wisconsin and serves on the Diversity Committee for the Cedar Rapids Community School District. Anne also co-chaired the 2017 giving campaign for United Way of East Central Iowa.
Anne plays violin and is exceedingly grateful for her three adult children and granddaughter.
February 26, 2019
John has been a special part of Linn County history since 1979 when he accepted the position of television sports director at KCRG TV 9.
He has earned the honor of Iowa Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Over the years, John has ridden and reported on 17 RAGBRAI bike tours across the state. John has been a favorite face and voice for local sports for almost 35 years. He continues to contribute stories to KCRG TV about great outdoor activities including his long running and popular Big Ol’ Fish segments.
May 1, 2018
Area arts professional Rob Cline engaged Henry in a look back over the photographer’s career.
George Henry began taking photographs at Coe College when he was a student at the school in the 1940s. For the next five decades, Henry was Coe’s photographer and an impressive archive of his work is housed on the Coe campus in the Stewart Memorial Library.
August 23, 2018
Ann Lipsky discusses details about the history of the Smulekoff's store, a Linn County landmark for 125 years from 1889-2014. Topics included members of the Smulekoff and Lipsky families, including her parents, Joan and Abbott as well as reflections on downtown Cedar Rapids changes over the years.
Area arts professional Rob Cline hosted the conversation with Ann.
November 27, 2018
The Ginsberg family has been running the Ginsberg Jewelers store in Cedar Rapids for almost 100 years. Their store was located downtown until the flood in 2008 led them to relocate.
Herman grew up in the family business and has been a long-time advocate of the downtown community, especially of retail stores. Come hear Herman’s great recollections of downtown retail, especially during the holiday seasons of the past.