Five famous people who once lived in the Quad-Cities

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(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

Our community’s obscure name makes us an easy target for jokes. And the fact that many of us talk through our noses (whether we realize it or not) makes people laugh even harder because of the way “Quad-Cities” sounds when we say it.

But start ticking off a list of our most famous residents and even the harshest bi-coastal residents (who view us as flyover country) will say, “I didn’t know that!”

Here are five famous (or infamous) people who once called the Quad-Cities home.

John Deere. John Deere is a household name not only in the U.S, but around the world. While the global tractor maker was founded in Grand Detour, Ill. in 1837, it moved to Moline 11 years later. Today, John Deere World Headquarters remains in Moline.

Ronald Reagan. Not many people know that “The Gipper” got his start in show business at WOC Radio in Davenport, Iowa.

“Reagan’s first assignment – for $5 and bus fare – was the University of Iowa’s homecoming game against Minnesota,” The Des Moines Register reports in its online archives. “In the spring of 1933, partly because he had covered the Drake Relays so skillfully, Reagan was chosen to become chief sports announcer for WOC’s sister station, WHO in Des Moines.

Reagan, of course, went on to become the 40th president of the United States. He arguably was the most popular U.S. president in my 46-year lifetime.

Roger Craig. NFL legend Roger Craig of San Francisco 49ers fame grew up in Davenport, Iowa. Craig is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He has three Super Bowl rings.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Who’s that, you say? Well, while “The greatest thing since sliced bread” may be a common catchphrase, few people know that Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented it – in Davenport, Iowa, no less. You can’t get much more Americana than that.

John Looney. John Looney was a notorious Prohibition-era gangster who ruled the mean streets of Rock Island, Ill. The home from which Looney controlled booze, prostitution, and illegal gambling, still stands. It is rumored that it connects to tunnels that sprawl throughout the city’s downtown, which is how illegal goods were trafficked. The notorious criminal owned the city’s newspaper and threatened to blackmail people if they didn’t do as he wanted.

Paul Newman played Looney in the film adaptation “Road to Perdition” in 2002, co-starring Tom Hanks.

Some might say that the “less than above-board” (criminal?) style of Rock Island County power-mongering hasn’t changed much in the past 100 years.

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