This new award recognizes key Iowans who have left a significant civil liberties legacy.
Three remarkable Iowa leaders have been named as the first-ever recipients of the ACLU of Iowa Edward S. Allen award, named after the Iowa State University math professor who founded the ACLU of Iowa in 1935. They are Dennis Barnum, Mary Garst, and Art Neu.
The past year marked the passing of all three, who have done much to defend and advance civil liberties for all Iowans. As a result, to recognize them in a fitting way, the ACLU of Iowa created a new award to recognize such individuals, living or deceased.
Jeremy Rosen, executive director of the ACLU of Iowa said, "We created the Edward S. Allen award to ensure that we had the ability to recognize Iowans who are long-time civil liberties heroes. In contrast to our other awards that recognize particular contributions in the year that they are given, the Allen award is only given in years where there are one or more appropriate recipients. While the ACLU of Iowa staff and board work tirelessly to defend civil liberties, we cannot do it alone, and it is important to recognize members of our community who give of their own time to expand and protect civil liberties in our state.
This year’s three winners will be recognized at the ACLU of Iowa 80th Birthday Bash on Friday, October 2, at the World Food Prize Building in Des Moines.
Dennis Barnum of Gowrie joined the ACLU of Iowa Board of Directors approximately 15 years ago. He was a former ACLU of Iowa board president who also served on the national ACLU board. He was a passionate supporter of civil liberties and remained active in the ACLU of Iowa until the end of his life. Beloved and effective, Barnum managed to both amuse and inspire. For several years, he traveled across the state at his own expense to visit donors, logging more than 1,000 miles. Barnum was an impassioned social activist for a variety of human rights and civil liberties. He also served as president of Iowans Against the Death Penalty.
Mary Garst’s list of accomplishments is long and distinguished, but the ACLU has a special appreciation for her work in defending the rights of others. Involved in the Garst Company, she was an award-winning cattle rancher at her home near Coon Rapids. She went on to serve on the Chicago Federal Reserve Board and several corporate boards, often being one of the first women to have such a prominent role in these businesses.
Mary served as ACLU of Iowa board president for several terms in the ‘80s and ‘90s, completing her last term in 1993. She continued to be an active supporter and special solicitor.
Another notable achievement: She raised a clan of daughters who have all been active in the ACLU. Liz and Sarah Garst have both served as board presidents and Rachel has served on the board. All three continue in leadership and advisory roles. Jennifer and Kate also have been appreciated supporters.
Art Neu’s distinguished political and public service career included a commitment to civil liberties. Neu served as a lieutenant governor, state senator, member of the Iowa Board of Regents and Iowa Board of Corrections, and mayor of Carroll. He was also a passionate civil libertarian who throughout his life advocated for the individual liberties of all.
Jefferson Bee & Herald publisher and editor Rick Morain, described Neu this way: “I would call him a liberal Republican, a species that has pretty well disappeared from the political scene. Not many western Iowa Republicans are also active members of the American Civil Liberties Union, as was he. Art was adept at conversation, and I would have feared to oppose him during a legislative debate or in the courtroom.”