Home Alumni Basketball court at Knapp Center named in honor of alumnus Ron Pearson

Basketball court at Knapp Center named in honor of alumnus Ron Pearson

News Photo
Ron Pearson addresses the crowd at Saturday’s joint celebration.

Drake University and Hy-Vee Inc. officials gathered recently at the Knapp Center to celebrate the unveiling of the basketball court, which has been named Ron Pearson Court, in honor of Hy-Vee Chairman Emeritus and Drake alumnus Ron Pearson. ҬӬ

Hy-Vee made a contribution to the university’s athletic department that granted the company naming rights to the court where Drake men’s and women’s basketball games and Drake volleyball games are played. Hy-Vee suggested naming the court in honor of Pearson, a Hy-Vee leader who served as chairman and CEO of the company from 1989 until 2006, when he was elected chairman emeritus. “¨”¨

Drake officials, per NCAA guidelines, approved the name and the design of the court, which was repainted over the summer to feature the Hy-Vee logo on the floor and the designation “Ron Pearson Court” on both endlines. “¨”¨Drake Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb said the University is pleased to join Hy-Vee in saluting Pearson. “¨”¨

“Ron Pearson is the ideal alumnus to honor in this way,” Clubb said. “His name is synonymous with excellence and integrity, which are two values that Drake aspires to model on a daily basis. We are grateful to Hy-Vee for their generous support of Drake athletics.” “¨”¨

Hy-Vee Chairman and CEO Ric Jurgens said the company wanted to recognize Pearson not only for his service to Hy-Vee, but also for his contributions to the Des Moines area, the state of Iowa and numerous non-profit and charitable organizations.

“¨”¨”Ron Pearson is an individual who exemplifies Hy-Vee’s fundamental values of friendliness, helpfulness, honesty, respect and dedication,” Jurgens said. “His visionary leadership transformed our company into one of the most highly regarded supermarket chains in the world, and his personal example has inspired thousands of Hy-Vee employee-owners to become actively involved in their communities. We are proud to honor Ron’s legacy of service with this gift to his alma mater.”


News Photo
The court now features the Hy-Vee logo on the floor and the designation “Ron Pearson Court” on both endlines.

Pearson is a native of Des Moines and a graduate of East High School. He
started working for Hy-Vee in 1960 as a part-time employee while
attending Drake University.

After graduating from Drake in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in Business
Administration, he accepted a full-time position with Hy-Vee. Within
two years, he had worked his way up to store manager at Hy-Vee’s new
store in Cedar Falls. He became a regional manager for the company in
1974, was elected an officer in 1975, and was promoted to vice
president, retail operations in 1976. “¨  “¨In 1983 Pearson was elected to
succeed Dwight Vredenburg as president of Hy-Vee, and he added the
responsibilities of chairman and CEO upon Vredenburg’s retirement in
1989. Pearson served as the company’s top operations officer until 2006,
when he was elected chairman emeritus. “¨  “¨

During his career Pearson served as chairman of the Food Marketing
Institute and was a recipient of the Sidney R. Rabb Award, FMI’s highest
honor for supermarket industry leaders. He is a past chairman of the
Iowa Business Council and an inductee in the Iowa Business Hall of Fame.

He has chaired or served on the boards of Drake University, The
Principal Financial Group, the Iowa College Foundation, the Greater Des
Moines Partnership, the Dowling Foundation, Keep Iowa Beautiful,
Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa, Variety – The Children’s Charity, the
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Iowa United Negro College
Fund and several other organizations. He also chaired the successful
capital campaign to build the Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer
Society Hope Lodge in Iowa City. “¨  “¨

Pearson and his wife, Ruth, are the parents of two children, Lezli and Joel, and have six grandchildren.