Nolden I. Gentry, Jr., 60BA, 64JD, has proven time and again in his life that he is a man to be counted on.
In 1955, when Rockford West High School played Elgin for the Illinois basketball title, it was Nolden Gentry who tipped in the victory basket in the final seconds of the game. Gentry was a natural on the court and considered playing pro basketball before pursuing a J.D. degree in the UI College of Law, which he completed in 1964.
Teacher and mentor Willard Sandy Boyd recalls that Gentry was outstanding in every respect. Nonetheless, it was a difficult time for black professionals. Deterred by the lack of opportunities for black lawyers after graduating from Iowa in the 1960s, Gentry began his legal career as a special agent for the F.B.I. A year later, he was hired as an assistant attorney general for the State of Iowa. Today, the Rockford, Illinois, native is an attorney and shareholder with the Des Moines law firm of Brick, Gentry, Bowers, Swartz, Stoltze, Schuling & Levis.
Gentry has served the university and state with distinction through his private law practice and as a citizen deeply committed to civic matters, and he has been recognized in return with several awards and honors. In 1997, he was awarded the UIs Hancher/Finkbine Medallion. He has also been honored by the Des Moines Chapter of Links, the Des Moines Human Rights Commission, and the Des Moines National Conference for Community and Justice.
Gentry was a member of the University of Iowa Foundation Board from 1973 to 1976 and rejoined the board in 2004. He is a lifetime honorary director of the Iowa Law School Foundation and serves on the board of directors of the National I-Club and the UI Black Alumni Association.
A longtime financial supporter of the University of Iowa, he made his first gift to the Iowa Law School Foundation in 1963. Since then, he and his wife, Barbara J. Gentry, have been consistent and generous supporters of the Iowa College of Law and of UI Athletics.
Gentry has contributed greatly to the civic life of Iowa. He has served on the board of directors for the Delta Dental Plan of Iowa, Firstar Bank Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Bankers Trust, Prairie Meadows, and the Iowa Public Television Foundation. He has also been a member of the State Board of Public Instruction and the Des Moines Independent School District board of directors, which he has served as president. He is a member of the Polk County and Iowa State Bar Associations.
In addition, Gentry worked on a committee studying government ethics for the Iowa State Legislature, served on the executive committee for United Way, as governor of the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, president of the Des Moines Housing Corporation, and former legal counsel for the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce.
A life member of the UI Alumni Association, Nolden Gentry has exhibited selfless service to the University of Iowa and to his adopted state, making him a deserving recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service.