47 years. That marks how long it has been since Dick Benne has missed a home Hawkeye football game. His support of Iowa athletics dates back even further than that.
Benne is excited for the 2014 football season, his 48th as a season ticket holder. For Benne, the Black and Gold support began when he was a young boy growing up in Iowa.
“I have been a Hawkeye fan since grade school,” said Benne. “I grew up listening to all the games on the radio.”
The memories of the first football and men’s basketball game the Burlington resident attended have stuck with him. At his first football game on Nov. 17, 1958, in then Iowa Stadium, the Black and Gold defeated Ohio State, 6-0, to reach the Rose Bowl. Benne also recollected his first basketball game, a 62-61 loss to top-ranked Ohio State in 1961, despite being down four starters. “Don Nelson almost made a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Hawkeyes the win,” recalled Benne, a men’s basketball season ticket holder since 1969.
His favorite Hawkeye sports moments of all-time are popular ones, including the flyover at the Ohio State football game in 2010 and Chuck Long’s game-winning endaround touchdown against Michigan State in 1985.
Benne’s passion for the Hawkeyes on the playing field has translated into strong support off as well.
He has been an I-Club member for 48 years and started the Des Moines County I-Club. Benne, who earned his B.B.A from Iowa in 1965, initiated luncheons in Burlington in 1972 and the rest as they say, ‘is history.’
In 1977, the first official Des Moines County I-Club luncheon was held. He became a member of the National I-Club Board in 1980 and served as National I-Club President from 1991-92. In 1992, Benne was named ‘Hawk of the Year,’ an award given annually to an individual who has dedicated its support and passion to Hawkeye athletics.
For Benne, the Des Moines County I-Club president, it is truly about supporting the student-athletes. His favorite contribution aspect is ‘seeing and meeting the great student-athletes that you help support.’
He takes great pride in the Hawkeyes and the success of the Des Moines County I-Club.
“We have done it with class,” said Benne. “We have received a great response from all walks of life, and that is very important. I am very proud to support the Hawks.”