David Kruidenier (July 18, 1921 - January 9, 2006)
Originally submitted by: Emily Perry, Drake University, Oct. 28, 2010]]Originally submitted by: Emily Perry, Drake University, Oct. 28, 2010
Drake Connection and Significant Accomplishments
Kruidenier served as the president of the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation which helped make the completion of Cowles Library and the Harvey Ingham Hall of Science. He was elected into Drake University's Board of Trustees in 1960, and since then served as a member of the executive committee, vice chairman, and chairman. He also played a large role in the Francis Marion Drake Society.
Kruidenier also contributed numerous gifts of endowment, scholarship, and general operations. His foundation committed $5 million to the "National Commision on the Future of Drake University and The Campaign for Drake," which was the largest single gift that the university has ever received.
Significant Impact on Des Moines
Kruidenier was known for always looking for ways to improve Des Moines, especially in the metro area. His fiscal contributions and ideas helped shape the Downtown Des Moines that exists today. Some of his contributions to Des Moines include the Civic Center, Nollen Plaza, Simon Estes Amphitheater, Forest Avenue Library, the renovation of Gray's Lake, and the downtown public library. He created and ran the Kruidenier foundation, which gives millions of dollars annually to projects which are created to improve the city.
Kruidenier was involved in many societal activities. He served on the Des Moines board of directors for years, had a chair on the board of directors of the state's biggest bank, and served as a trustee of the Des Moines Art Center. Being an avid supporter of the arts, he was a big financial supporter of the completion of the design wings in the Art Center. In 1975, Kruidenier led the effort to raise $9 million for the completion of the Civic Center in 90 days. He was also a head in the committee to construct a new YWCA in Des Moines.
He also served on the boards of: Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Drake University, the Cowles Foundation, the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation, Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, Greater Des Moines Committee, the Menninger Foundation, Grinnell College, Des Moines Symphony, and the Civic Music Association.
He was a member of the Des Moines Club, Wakonda Club, Rotary Club, Iowa Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Junior Achievement, and the Governor’s Committee on Mental Health.
Personal Life and Background
David Kruidenier was born in Des Moines, Iowa on July 18th, 1921, to Florence Cowles Kruidenier and David Kruidenier. He was the grandson of Gardner Cowles, who was a newspaper monopolist and the namesake of Cowles Library. Kruidenier's father was the secretary-treasurer of a car dealership which sold Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, and LaSalles.
Kruidenier attended public school in Des Moines through the ninth grade, but went to Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the remainder of his high school education. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University and his master's degree from Harvard Business School. His wife Elizabeth, who he married in 1948, attended Drake University and graduated with a law school degree. Kruidenier's daughter, Lisa, is also an alumni of Drake University.
Krudenier served as an Air Force Officer during World War II from 1942 to 1945. He was credited for instructing and leading 34 bombing missions across the Pacific Ocean. Krudenier's crew was one of the first to survey the damage done to Nagasaki after the atomic bomb as dropped, and to take pictures of what they saw. Because of his accomplishments, he was awarded the Air Medal with three Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
One of Krudenier's interests included collecting valuable modern art. He owns a second home in Aspen, Colorado, which is the city in which his daughter resides. In his free time he could be found driving around his neighborhood in a classic Model A Ford, which was a large contrast from his usual transportation of a red Mercedes-Benz roadster. At the peak of his publishing career, his salary was $150,000 a year, not including the approximate $35,000 he additionally made off of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company stock.
Kruidenier died of Pnemonia in Des Moines on January 9, 2006. He was 84.
Beginnings in the Newspaper Business
Kruidenier began his newspaper career in 1948. He began his training at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune]. Four years later, in 1952, he moved back to Des Moines and worked for the Des Moines Register and Tribune] as the assistant business manager. The Register had been in the Cowles family since 1904, when Kruidenier's grandfather purchased the rights to the paper. The paper was passed down to Kruidenier's Uncles for the time being. Kruidenier worked for the Des Moines Register for 33 years total, climbing his way up to the top until 1971 when he was named the publisher and the president of the paper. By 1982, he was the CEO and chairman of the newspaper. Taking over the family business, he was the CEO and chairman of Cowles Media Company from 1973 to 1993. During his lifetime, Kruidenier influenced the production of six daily Registers, six daily Tribunes, as well as the Des Moines Sunday Register at one time.
Under the leadership of Kruidenier, citizens of Des Moines claimed that the Register had improved its coverage on business, politics, and agriculture. 3 out of the 15 Pulitzer prizes which the Des Moines Register has won were earned under Kruidenier, and in 1984, Time Magazine named the Register as one of the nation's 10 best newspapers. Throughout his years of working in the newspaper industry, Kruidenier experienced the nationwide decline in newspaper circulation and profits. On July 1st, 1985, he sold the Des Moines Register to the Gannett Company, ending the 82-year strong bond and partnership between the Cowles family, Des Moines, and the state of Iowa.
Kruidenier holds honorary degrees from Drake University, Buena Vista College, and Simpson College. He was introduced in the Iowa Business Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2000, he was named one of Iowa's most influential people. Some other awards that he has received include the A. Arthur Davis award, United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award, University of Minnesota Distinctive Journalism Award, and the Des Moines Philanthropist award.
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