On every project he was a part of, Jack Iams ’51 left his mark.
Whether it was his unique architectural design of homes and structures, his heartfelt commitment to restoring The Castle on Fourth Street, or his enduring support of his alma mater, Iams’s desire to make a lasting impact on the places and people he cared about will stand the test of time.
Prior to his death at age 90 in November 2019, Iams had always been there for the College — regularly attending athletics events, interacting with students and leadership, and consistently supporting the College financially. After his passing, The Marietta Fund, which focuses on meeting the institution’s greatest needs, received a $1 million gift from his estate.
“He loved the College and always stayed close to it,” says longtime friend Harley Noland. “He got a warm feeling just being on campus. He went to the football games. He would take walks and chat with people there. He even designed a house for his fraternity that was never built because he didn’t work in the colonial style.”
Iams’s style is evident, though, in the many building and restoration projects he took on in Marietta and Columbus throughout his long career. He built many mid-century modern homes in Marietta, including two on Hillcrest Drive and another across from Mound Cemetery on Sixth Street, which he built for his parents and retired to himself on their passing.
He loved the College and always stayed close to it. He got a warm feeling just being on campus. He went to the football games. He would take walks and chat with people there. He even designed a house for his fraternity that was never built because he didn’t work in the colonial style.
— Harley Noland,
Jack Iams’s longtime friend
Noland describes his friend’s design style as favoring the practical and the efficient, with his own particular flair. “Jack was very meticulous in his designs, his planning and his personal effects,” Noland says. “He knew, for example, that he would retire in the home he built for his parents. He also kept and scrupulously catalogued all of his work.”
Thanks to that aesthetic, and due in large part to Noland’s efforts as executor of Iams’s estate, Iams’s canon now has a permanent home in the Special Collections of Marietta’s Legacy Library.
Iams got his start in the United States Air Force as a second lieutenant and housing project officer, where he was put in charge of building a large housing complex for a base in North Carolina. He then returned to Ohio, where he began working for, and investing in, many prominent businesses that were just getting their start in the 1960s.
One such project — and a lifelong labor of love for Iams — was The Castle on Fourth Street in Marietta. Iams worked with the Bosley siblings on the original restoration of The Castle, work he continued through the years — even serving a term as president of its board following its transfer of ownership to the Betsey Mills Corporation. The Castle has recently spun off from Betsey Mills to form its own nonprofit, independent corporation.
The Castle’s current Board President, Judy Piersall ’71, bonded with Iams over their love of history and the city of Marietta. Piersall, who can trace her family lineage to Rufus Putnam, fondly remembers Iams for his low-key demeanor, his dry sense of humor and his friendly spirit.
“I’d see Jack from across the room and the first thing I would notice was his bright, beautiful smile,” Piersall says. “He always had that smile for me. He carried himself with a quiet dignity. He was a well-rounded, engaging conversationalist. I enjoyed his company immensely.”
Piersall and Noland both attest to Iams’s civic-mindedness and his generous support of many organizations in Marietta.
“Jack was a lover of his community, and invested a great deal of time and talent in that love,” Piersall says. “We continue to appreciate his great love and support of The Castle. He was a consistent presence here. He is missed.”
“He was very involved with projects going on around the city — we worked together for 27 years to save the Armory on Front Street, and that’s just one initiative,” Noland says. “He was very generous to the people and places he cared for, including the College.
“He felt at home at Marietta College. It inspired a real affinity in him. That it inspires the same sentiment in so many others is probably the reason the College thrives to this day.”