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Basketball Court At Drake’s Knapp Center Named In Honor Of Pearson

September 16, 2010 | News & Press Releases


Hy-Vee, Inc. contribution to Drake athletic department honors longtime CEO

DES MOINES, IA – Officials with Hy-Vee, Inc. and Drake University today announced that the basketball court at Drake’s Knapp Center has been named Ron Pearson Court, in honor of Hy-Vee Chairman Emeritus and Drake alumnus Ron Pearson.

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 baselines. 

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.”

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 and Drake will hold a private ceremony Saturday evening at the Knapp Center to celebrate Pearson’s career and accomplishments and unveil Drake’s new Ron Pearson Court.

 “I am very proud and honored to be recognized in this manner by two outstanding organizations that have played such important roles in my life,” Pearson said. “It has been a privilege to work for the thousands of employees and millions of customers who make Hy-Vee a special place.”


About Ron Pearson
Ron 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, Hormel Foods Corporation, 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. 

About Hy-Vee
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 230 retail stores in eight Midwestern states. For 2010 the company will record total sales in excess of $6.7 billion, ranking it among the top 30 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States. With 56,000 employees, Hy-Vee is the nation’s second-largest employee-owned company.

About Drake
Drake University is a private, independent university with an enrollment of approximately 3,300 full-time undergraduate students and a total enrollment of 5,616. Drake's mission is to provide an exceptional learning environment that prepares students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments and responsible global citizenship. The Drake experience is distinguished by collaborative learning among students, faculty and staff and by the integration of the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation.