Iowa philanthropist, entrepreneur John Pappajohn passes away

(ABC 6 News) – University of Iowa alumnus and philanthropic entrepreneur, John Pappajohn has passed away. He was 94-years-old.

Pappajohn immigrated to the United States from Greece as an infant and grew up in Mason City. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1952, earning his Bachelor of Science degree from the then-College of Business Administration.

He started Guardsman Life Insurance Company in 1962, selling the company for $100,000 just 7 years later. He then used the money to start his own venture capital fund, Equity Dynamics. The firm grew rapidly, making Pappajohn one of the state’s most prominent business leaders.

Amy Kristof-Brown, dean of the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business said of his passing, “This is a great loss for the Tippie College of Business and the University of Iowa, as John Pappajohn is so much more than a name on our business school building. His story is at the heart of what we do and inspires us every day. He lived the American dream, immigrating to the United States as a child, raising a family, and using his intelligence and hard work to become a business leader. His is a success story we can all learn from.”

Pappajohn and his wife Mary donated a large sum of money to the University of Iowa in 1992 in order to build the John Pappajohn Business Building for the College of Business. They also donated to the University in order to create the Pappajohn Pavilion in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center, and the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Research Building.

In total, the Pappajohns family has provided more than $100 million in support of philanthropic causes with a particular devotion to higher education and the arts.

He also donated $1.5 million in 1996 to seed the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) with additional gifts to launch four other entrepreneurial centers housed at Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, and North Iowa Area Community College. 

Learn more about John Pappajohn, HERE.