Iowa City Press-Citizen: Darrell Wyrick, Former UI Foundation Leader, Dies at 81

Web Note:  Darrell Wyrick was a member of the College of Engineering's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Academy (

By Zach Berg Iowa City Press-Citizen

Darrell Wyrick, the first president of the University of Iowa Foundation, is being remembered as a man who dedicated much of his life to the university and Iowa City community.

Wyrick died Thursday at age 81, spurring an outpouring of remembrances from family, friends and UI employees who lived and worked alongside Wyrick during his decades in Iowa City.

"He devoted his professional and personal life to the university," said Lynette Marshall, current president and CEO of the UI Foundation. "Everything we are today is because of the foundation that he built at the Foundation."

After receiving his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at UI in 1956 and his master's in 1957, Wyrick returned to UI in 1962 after being hired as the first full-time employee of the UI Foundation.

As the foundation's president, he led capital campaigns to build the university's Museum of Art in 1969.

"Before he got the job, the capital campaign for the museum wasn't going well. He grabbed it by the horns, changed it and got the funds needed," said Dave Dierks, current vice president of principal gifts at the foundation.

"The restoration of the Old Capitol was also a great source of pride for him," Dierks said. "His passion for Iowa, and his loyalty to Iowa and his staff was unwavering."

Dierks, who was hired in the early 1970s, remembered the "great atmosphere" Wyrick established at the foundation, which grew from one employee to over 100 in his tenure. According to UI, the foundation received over $500 million in contributions during his career.

"As big of a professional and business leader he looked to be to us, he was also an equal cheerleader for the university," Dierks said. "He was also a great family man. He was a mentor to me, and taught me how to balance work and home."

Lane Wyrick, one of Darrell's three children, remembered his father creating "a culture that was family oriented at the foundation." He said his father ended every speech by saying, "Go Iowa, go Hawks."

"It's his dignity while he was at the foundation and his smile that I'll remember him most for," Lane Wyrick said.

Darrell was married to local artist Shirley Wyrick for 59 years and raised three children with her in Iowa City: Lane, Craig Wyrick-Solari and Anne Wyrick.

"We all had our chances to say our goodbyes to him, so it's going to be maybe less grieving and more sharing stories," Lane said.

Though Darrell was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease nearly 20 years ago, Lane said "the disease didn't define him" and that his father died peacefully Thursday. "It was just his time," Lane said.

"The last few months weren't the best for him, but he squeezed a lot of good into his life," Dierks said. "I'm certainly going to miss him."