CLINTON -- The praises rang from friends, family and former colleagues for one of Clinton's own Wednesday afternoon.
Residents celebrated Hank Dihlmann's 99th birthday during Wednesday's Kiwanis Club meeting, highlighting the life and career of a World War II veteran, a KROS radio broadcaster and executive, a Hawkeye fan and a beloved relative and friend.
Club members passed a microphone around the Tuscany Events Center at Rastrelli's Restaurant, reflecting on their run-ins with Dihlmann in the radio booth, on the golf course and elsewhere. Then the man himself addressed the group that had gathered for the surprise celebration.
"Darn it, I'm getting old," Dihlmann said, drawing laughter. "Very seldom have I been at a loss for words, but today I'm overwhelmed. I want to thank everybody that's here today, and everybody that participated in putting this on. It was a complete surprise."
Dihlmann was presented with an honorary key to the City of Clinton by Mayor Mark Vulich. He received an official city coin and another distinction -- the designation of Wednesday, July 3, 2019 as Hank Dihlmann Day.
After listening to memories, stories and well-wishes from those who have felt his warmth, seen his work ethic and experienced his sense of humor, Dihlmann made his parting comments humorous -- just as many in the room Wednesday have come to expect.
"You've heard a lot of comments, and at least one-third of them are true," Dihlmann joked. "You'll have to decide which ones are not.
"All I can say now is thank you to all of you for doing what you've done today," Dihlmann said.
Among those taking the mic were KROS Sports Director Gary Determan, a friend and colleague of Dihlmann's, who offered warm sentiments and poked fun at the former station director's signature light yellow sweater so often seen draped over Dihlmann's shoulders.
"I can recall growing up the winters, listening to Hank do the broadcast of basketball games, wedged between our drier and the wall on a hot air register, listening to our radio, and Hank making the calls," Determan recalled Wednesday. "I had the opportunity to work with him for a few years, but one thing he impressed upon me is that you are the listeners' eyes.... That is one thing that I've always taken from following Hank, and it has been an absolute pleasure to follow Hank at KROS."
Receiving personal letters and words from dignitaries such as United States Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Sen. Chris Cournoyer and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Dihlmann heard the voice of another longtime contact Wednesday -- a voice that has become very familiar to fans of the Black and Gold such as Dihlmann.
The Voice of the Hawkeyes, Iowa football and men's basketball broadcaster Gary Dolphin, was on hand at Wednesday's celebration to personally wish Dihlmann well on his 99th birthday. Dolphin remembered the days shared in the booth while Dihlman worked minor league baseball games in Clinton and Dolphin did the same for the Dubuque Packers.
"I first met Hank in the mid-1970s," Dolphin recalled. "Hank embraced me and welcomed me to the circuit.
"It's an honor for me to be here," Dolphin said. Thank you for all the personal memories, Hank. It's always been fun to bump in to you wherever we were, at a high school, college, in Iowa City or around here in town. I'll always value our friendship."