John Ruan III, Des Moines businessman and philanthropist, dies at 78

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John Ruan III

DES MOINES, Iowa — John Ruan III, prominent Des Moines businessman and philanthropist, died Saturday following a long illness. He was 78.

Ruan III formerly served as chairman of Ruan Transportation Management Systems. Ruan Transportation employs 5,600 people in more than 300 operations across the United States. His son, John Ruan IV, took over as chairman of the Ruan family of companies in August 2021.

“Beyond his dedication to the Ruan family of companies, Mr. Ruan was a strong advocate for the transportation industry. He truly believed in the essential role of professional truck drivers and did all he could to support them,” a Ruan companies spokesperson said.

As part of his philanthropic work, Ruan III served as chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting world hunger.

“Few people have had more influence on the Central Iowa community than John Ruan III,” Don Coffin, CEO and president of Bankers Trust, said in a statement. “While he didn’t enjoy the limelight, Mr. Ruan quietly demonstrated significant business and philanthropic leadership to make our community more forward-thinking and vibrant. I know his family will carry on his important mission.”

Ruan III served on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and was chairman of the board in 2011. His other board memberships have included Hubbell Realty Company, Iowa Business Council, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Downtown Community Alliance, Chief Executives Organization and Castle Pines Golf Club.

Ruan III was a trustee of Culver Educational Foundation and was previously chairman of the Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Greater Des Moines YMCA.

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