Senator Harry G. Slife View All Years

Compiled Historical Information
Date of Death: 1/3/1994
Party Affiliation: Republican
Assemblies Served:
Senate: 74 (1991) - 75 (1993)
Home County: Black Hawk
Harry G. Slife
Black Hawk County


Harry G. Slife was born February 7, 1923, in Hawarden, Iowa, and died on January 2, 1994, at the age of seventy in an automobile accident along with his wife Polly. His parents were Earl and Bernice Venard Slife. He married Dorothea “Polly” Prichard on May 12, 1945. Harry and Polly were the parents of four children; James of Cedar Falls, Peggy Gaard of Edina, Minnesota, Polly McDonald of Rock Rapids, and Sarah Salzwedel of Mukwonago, Wisconsin, and they were grandparents to fourteen grandchildren. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

Harry Slife graduated from Hawarden High School in 1941. He attended the University of Northern Iowa from 1941 to 1943. In 1943 he joined the U.S. Marines and served in World War II until 1946. He then earned a law degree from the University of Iowa in 1948. He moved to Forest City where he practiced law and was elected Winnebago County attorney in 1954. In 1956 he moved to Waterloo to become general counsel for Rath Packing Co., then serving as vice president of finance before becoming President of Rath in 1967. He left Rath in 1975 to become President of Black Hawk Broadcasting Company, which among businesses owned the NBC affiliate in Waterloo.

He retired from Black Hawk Broadcasting in 1985 but maintained a full schedule of economic development and civic activities. Some of Harry Slife’s many activities included Iowa State Board of Regents; President: Wartburg Board of Regents; Iowa Department of Economic Development Board; Founder and Chairman: Cedar Valley Economic Development Partnership; President: University of Northern Iowa Foundation Board; Trustee: McElroy Trust; Waterloo Civic Foundation Board of Directors; Chairman: H.W. Grout Trust; President: Grout Museum, Inc.; Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center; Chairman: Convenant Medical Center Board; Governor’s Committee for Iowa’s Future Growth; Iowa Development Commission; Iowa Manufacturers Association; Cedar Falls Arts and Culture Board; Hawkeye Institute of Technology Foundation Board; Hoover Library Board; National Bank of Waterloo Board; Waterloo Chamber of Commerce; Sartori Memorial Hospital Board; St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church and the Waterloo Rotary Club.

Senator Slife’s awards included Iowa Management Man of the Year, 1972; Boss of the Year, 1975; Waterloo Jaycees; Citizen of the Year, Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, 1979; Distinguished Iowa Citizen Award, 1987; Service to Mankind Award, Cedar Falls Sercoma Club, 1987; Winnebago Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Distinquished Service to Cedar Falls, 1989, “Q” award winner for contributions to Quakerdale.

Senator Slife and his wife, Polly, were involved in numerous fund-raising activities for civic and educational purposes. Polly Slife was active in many community organizations, a few of which were the Conestoga Council of Girl Scouts; the University of Northern Iowa Alumni Board; the Sartori Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Board; and the United Methodist Womens Guild. In 1988 Harry and Polly were recognized as “Outstanding Philanthropists” by the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the National Society of Fund-raising Executives.

Senator Slife’s career in elective office began with his special election to the Senate in November of 1990. He served in the 74th General Assembly and the first half of the 75th General Assembly when he resigned to continue his statewide and community civic endeavors and responsibilities. Polly Slife was an integral part of Senator Slife’s work in the Senate and she was active as an officer in the Legislative League.

Upon news of Senator Slife’s death, Governor Branstad stated, “The State of Iowa has lost one of its finest and most respected citizens. Harry Slife was a community leader and a community supporter. He did a lot for a lot of people. There is no end to the good things you could say about Harry and Polly Slife. Their death is a tragic loss to their many friends and to the State of Iowa”.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE SEVENTY-FIFTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF IOWA: That in the passing of the Honorable Harry G. Slife, the State has lost an outstanding citizen who made the public good and public service his priority and that the Senate by this Resolution, expresses its appreciation of his service to the State and tenders its sympathy and kindest regards to the members of his family.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That a copy of this resolution be spread upon the Journal of the Senate and that the Secretary of the Senate be instructed to forward an enrolled copy to the family of the deceased.