Home Community Philanthropist, Iowa businessman John Pappajohn dies at 94

Philanthropist, Iowa businessman John Pappajohn dies at 94

Des Moines, IOWA – By Anna Kutz/ [WeAreIOWA.com]

Renowned businessman, investor and philanthropist  John Pappajohn has passed away at 94 years old. 

He died on Saturday, April 22, after decades of donations to colleges and universities across the state. 

The University of Iowa, one of his many benefactors, confirmed the news with a post honoring his memory Wednesday. 

According to the university’s tribute, Pappajohn’s work establishing the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center impacted nearly half a million people as of 2022.

His donations totaled more than $30 million across five different universities, which ultimately helped launched around 1,000 companies, his online biography reads. 

The Pappajohn name has held weight statewide for nearly half a century, with notable contributions including the downtown Des Moines John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

Since founding a financial consulting business in 1969, “Mr. Pappajohn has been involved in over 100 start-ups, over 50 IPOs and has served as a Director in over 40 public companies.” 

Though he was born in Greece, Pappajohn claimed the Hawkeye State as “his native Iowa” and spent over 50 years investing in start-ups and businesses across the state as one of the earliest venture capitalists.

His wife and fellow investor, Mary, died in March of 2022. They are survived by one daughter, Ann Vassiliou. 

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie issued the following statement: 

“The City of Des Moines lost a great friend, generous benefactor and beloved member of our community in the passing of John Pappajohn. The tremendous contribution to Des Moines of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park is one of our most frequented parks, enjoyed by thousands of visitors every year. But the legacy that John and Mary, who died last year, goes well beyond their beautiful sculpture park. Their mutual love for Des Moines and Iowa can be seen in dozens of contributions and gifts they bestowed on communities, hospitals and universities throughout our state. We will miss them both and are forever grateful and indebted to them.”

“John was a dear friend of mine. He & Mary were mentors”, Krause Group CEO Kyle Krause tweeted. “I will miss his guidance & friendship. Iowa, USA & Greece lost a friend who made a difference”.