John Ruan, owner of Bankers Trust, the largest independent bank in Iowa, passed away yesterday. He was 96.
Mr. Ruan, one of the titans of Iowa business and civic circles, is best known for starting a trucking company, now called Ruan Transportation Systems. He was a major positive force for the city of Des Moines, and in 1990 started a foundation that assumed sponsorship of the World Food Prize.
The 36-story Ruan Center is a hallmark of the Des Moines skyline; Mr. Ruan also is responsible for the construction of the 14-story Two Ruan Center and the downtown Des Moines Marriott Hotel.
“In John Ruan’s day, they called them self-made men — individuals with guts, determination and an ability to anticipate marketplace trends. Today a man like Mr. Ruan would be called an entrepreneur, a visionary. His spirit did not come from seminars or books, but rather life experiences and a belief in himself and the people around him,” said Suku Radia, who met Mr. Ruan in 1975. Today, Radia is president and CEO of Bankers Trust, which has been in the Ruan family since 1964.