Elizabeth Kruidenier Obituary

Elizabeth Stuart Kruidenier
Elizabeth Kruidenier
Elizabeth Stuart Kruidenier

April 1, 1926 - October 19, 2011
Born in Des Moines, IA
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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The following article by William Petroski and Kyle Munson from the October 30, 2011 edition of "The Des Moines Register" was posted here at the request of Elizabeth Kruidenier's family.

Elizabeth Kruidenier, a philanthropist and lawyer who with her late husband, David, helped to reshape the cultural fabric and institutions of Des Moines, died peacefully at her south-side home early Wednesday morning.

Known as "Liz," Kruidenier, 85, was diagnosed in July with cancer which spread to her vital organs. But she had fought the disease and continued working at her law practice until just a few weeks ago. Her daughter, Lisa, and family friends were with her in her final hours.

Community leaders recalled Wednesday how she and David Kruidenier, the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Co., left their fingerprints throughout Des Moines with their decades of leadership to improve the city and millions of dollars of philanthropy.

Their beneficiaries include Gray's Lake, the Des Moines Central Library, the Des Moines Art Center, and the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.

"There was no one like her and her husband, David," said Des Moines Symphony Conductor and Music Director Joseph Giunta. "She was a wonderful person and someone who cared so much about the community and was so generous for so many of us. This is almost like the end of an era for Des Moines, and this is certainly a sad day."

Kruidenier, who was born Elizabeth Stuart in Des Moines on April 1, 1926, was a graduate of Des Moines Roosevelt High School. She received a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in 1948 — the same year she met David Kruidenier at a dance. He died in 2006.

She received a law degree from Drake University at 47 and went on to become a senior partner in a law firm with Alfredo Parrish.

She was a founding member of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, and worked with Planned Parenthood, the League of Women Voters, the National Organization for Women and many other groups.

"She was a feminist way back when. I remember when Eleanor Roosevelt visited her house many years ago," recalled Des Moines businessman Bill Knapp, a longtime friend of the Kruidenier family. "She was really a pioneer. She was very strong in civil rights and equal rights."

Knapp said he particularly recalled that Liz and David were always partners, and they generally shied away from publicity for their good works. "This is a tough loss. I tell you, Des Moines owes an awful lot to them," he said.

Kruidenier's longtime law partner, Alfredo Parrish, visited her home Tuesday night just hours before she died. He recalled her as a hard worker who routinely worked six days a week when she joined their law practice.

"Her commitment to helping poor people never dimmed," Parrish said. "It was just her mission: If someone had a hard luck story, she was there with her legal skills, ingenuity and sheer brain power."

Jill June, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, called Kruidenier "a shining star for the state of Iowa and the city of Des Moines in particular."

At Planned Parenthood's headquarters building in Des Moines, the education center and library are named in honor of Elizabeth and David Kruidenier, and an oil painting of the couple is on display. "Together, they exemplified the spirit of a community working together to generate common good for everyone. They lived that principle through their example. They were very dear to each other, and I would like to think that they are together again," June said.

Terry Rich, now chief executive of the Iowa Lottery, was in charge of Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines when he got to know Kruidenier as a board member and lead donor.

He praised her "ability to help others and do it in a quiet way" as well as her forward-thinking work on women's rights.

"Classy and yet a rebel in her own way — that was Liz," he said.

The family said a private memorial service is planned at a later date for family and friends. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Blank Park Zoo, the Animal Rescue League and Studio 409 hair salon of West Des Moines, which provides wigs for cancer patients.







Blank Park Zoo
7401 SW 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50315