Dallas County Freedom Rock Dedicated Two Years Ago

The Dallas County Freedom Rock was dedicated two years ago at Minburn, Iowa. The keynote speaker was Simon Conway of WHO-Radio, who is on the the Puppy Jake Foundation Board of Directors. He told compelling stories about veterans and their service dogs.

As a niece (the oldest) of the five Wilson brothers, and the book about the family due out in a few weeks, I was asked to be one of the speakers. The Freedom Rock founder and artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen, couldn’t attend because he beloved grandfather had died and the funeral was the same day. I was asked to lengthen what I’d planned to talk about, which was the great sacrifice of the Wilson family of Minburn during WWII. That gave me a chance to tell a little about how the Freedom Rock idea got started.

The north side features two legendary Dallas County athletes, who also served in WWII, Bob Feller and Nile Kinnick.

Kinnick of Adel was a football great at the U of Iowa, Heisman Trophy winner, and All American. He became a pilot during WWII, but was lost in training in the Caribbean in 1943. In 1972, the U of Iowa renamed Kinnick Stadium in his honor. (His younger brother, Benjamin Kinnick, was killed in action in 1944, in New Guinea, in a B-25. The Kinnick family, by then living in Nebraska, lost two of their three sons during the war.)

Bob Feller of Van Meter was already in the baseball major leagues when he was 17, then returned home to finish high school. (The three oldest Wilson brothers, then in school at Dexter, played against both Kinnick and Feller. Dexter lost to both.) Feller pitched 18 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, taking time out for four years of Naval service during WWII.

Five weeks later, Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II was published. (I could never have planned this perfect timing. lump in throat)

This fall, Freedom Rock founder and artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen completed the last Freedom Rock is all of Iowa’s 99 counties. My story about Iowa’s Freedom Rocks.


  1. I can’t recall seeing the other side of the rock before. Glad to learn their stories. The Kinnicks and Ferrell’s made quite a sacrifice, too. Sorensen did such a beautiful job. There must be a story behind the Puppy Jake Foundation. That’s quite a name.

    • I’d given a talk 8 days earlier about the Wilson family during the war, the first I’d been able to do since the fall of 2001 because of fibromyalgia. The chairman of the Dallas County Rock Committee heard it and asked if I’d do it for the dedication. I didn’t know if I could do them that close together energy-wise, but I did it and so enjoyed talking to people afterwards. A real blessing, but I still haven’t met Sorensens, although I connected Ray with Our American Stories for an interviw.

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