Iowa trail advocate, Tom Neenan, passes away at 92

By Kerri on September 17, 2015 in Blog

Iowa lost one of its trail pioneers last week.

Thomas Neenan Sr., 92, passed away Tuesday, September 8, after a short battle with bone cancer. Tom’s lifetime boasted a wealth of achievements, but it’s his dedication and passion for Iowa's trail systems that will be most remembered.


The route along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

Tom served on the Linn County conservation board for 10 years, and is often credited for bringing the American Discovery Trail to Iowa. He also formed and sustained the Iowa Trails Council and aided in their efforts of establishing over 1000 miles of trail on former railroad right-of-way.

Anita O'Gara, Vice President and Development Director of INHF knew Tom personally, and admired his work at a time when INHF and the Iowa Trails Council were both pioneers in trying to establish recreational trails. “His drive, his passion, his energy—that really drove it,” O'Gara said. “He had a lot of vision and persistence.”

Over the course of his career in conservation, Tom earned several awards and received recognition for his work, including the Lifetime Service Award from American Trails in 1998 and an induction into Iowa's Volunteer Hall of Fame in 1995. He was also nominated for INHF's Hagie Heritage Award in 2003.

Tom is survived by his five children, and in lieu of flowers, the family asks that those in remembrance find one hour to give back to their community.

A full obituary can be found here.