David Hurd, a retired Des Moines business leader who strengthened Drake University’s relationship with the community, died Saturday at the age of 86.
Hurd was a member of Drake’s governing board from 1986 to 1991. He was a founding member of the committee that oversees the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series, and a generous supporter of the arts, humanities, and the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement. In 1995, Drake University issued Hurd an honorary Doctor of Public Service in recognition of his “caring concern for families and fellow citizens, his conscientious business leadership, his service to numerous civic professional organizations, and his sheer hard work."
After serving in the United States Army during the Korean War, Hurd joined the company now known as The Principal Financial Group in 1954 and soon earned a series of promotions. He was named president in 1987 and then chairman and CEO in 1989. That year, the Principal Foundation, Inc., of Des Moines, a foundation funded by The Principal Financial Group, gave a $2 million gift to Drake. The unrestricted gift was at that time the largest ever given by The Principal Foundation, and pushed Drake University’s fundraising campaign past the $50 million mark.
Under Hurd's leadership, The Principal nearly doubled in size, with approximately $48 billion in assets under management when he retired in December 1994. He served in leadership positions in numerous Des Moines community organizations, including the Des Moines Development Corporation, the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Partnership, the Des Moines Arts Festival, Iowa Environmental Council, and the Nature Conservancy of Iowa. Through his involvement in these organizations and others, including Drake University, he helped spearhead projects that were vital to the betterment of the Greater Des Moines community and the state of Iowa.