Cowles Media Company, Des Moines
David Kruidenier was born July 18, 1921 in Des Moines, the son of David Kruidenier and Florence Cowles Kruidenier. He had a great education, attending Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, spending a year abroad in Switzerland. His time at Yale was interrupted for service during World War II when he served as a navigator on a B-29 bomber in the Pacific, flying on 34 missions and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross.
When the war was over he returned to Yale for his degree, then went on to Harvard, getting a Masters in Business Administration. He began his career in the newspaper business as a trainee for the Cowles owned Minneapolis Star and Tribune. In 1951 he joined the Des Moines Register and Tribune. Over the next twenty years he held a multitude of positions culminating in his being named president, publisher and CEO in 1971, a position he held until 1985. From 1973 to 1984 he also served as vice-president of the Cowles Media Company, then president, CEO and chairman from 1983-93.
He guided the newspaper through turbulent years, both as a news reporter and a newsmaker. His focus on excellence was noticed nationally. In 1984 the Des Moines Register was named as one of the ten best newspapers in the country. In an era when newspapers were struggling with rising costs and dwindling readership, the Register became a takeover target. A bidding war over the Register in the mid 80s ultimately led to the paper being sold to Gannett for $200 million and Kruidenier retiring.
The Kruidenier impact on the Des Moines community has been tremendous. He played a critical role in the revitalization of the city, leading such efforts as the Civic Center and Nollen Plaza, the Simon Estes Amphitheater, and Gray’s Lake.