The World Food Prize Foundation

Mr. John Ruan, Sr.

Mr. John Ruan, Sr. 

Chairman Emeritus
The World Food Prize Foundation

Mr. John Ruan, Sr. was a man of considerable impact and influence on a local, national, and international level.

As the former Chairman and CEO of The Ruan Companies, Mr. Ruan represented a diversified group of businesses with activities that include transportation, commercial banking, financial services, international trading and real estate development.

In his native State of Iowa, where he was born in 1914, Mr. Ruan was a major contributor in business and the development of the Des Moines metropolitan area. In the early 1970's, Mr. Ruan built the 36 story Ruan Center to house the administration of the growing number of Ruan companies. Mr. Ruan built the 33-story Marriott Hotel in 1980 and the 14-story Two Ruan Center in 1982. He was active in the development and building of the Des Moines Convention Center in 1985 as well as several parking ramps in the downtown area. Mr. Ruan also owned Bankers Trust Company, the largest independent bank in Iowa.

The John Ruan Multiple Sclerosis Golf Exhibition is one of the largest MS charity fund-raising events in the United States. With the moneys raised from this event, Mr. Ruan funded ongoing research at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Lukes MS Clinic in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Ruan also sponsored the Ruan Neuroscience Center at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. One of the top-ranked facilities of its kind, the Center provides quality care for people around the globe.

Nationally, Mr. Ruan is well known for his trucking company. He began in 1932 with only one truck. This small business grew into Ruan Transportation Management Systems, which is now one of the nation's largest trucking operations. 

Internationally, Mr. Ruan founded the Iowa Export-Import Trading Company, a business involving over 50 nations around the world.

Mr. Ruan was the subject of a 2003 biography, In for the Long Haul: The Life of John by historian William B. Fredericks.

Mr. Ruan passed away on February 13, 2010, at the age of 96.  More than 600 people paid him tribute at a Celebration of Life ceremony held on February 18, 2010.  He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; son John III, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.  His daughter, Elizabeth Jayne Ruan Fletcher, and son Thomas Ruan, are no longer living. 

Further information on the life and career of Mr. Ruan, including the memorial video written and narrated by World Food Prize Council of Advisors member Mr. Michael Gartner, can be found here.  

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