Monday, September 15, 2008

J. Patrick Rooney Dies

The IBJ's J.K. Wall reports that J. Patrick Rooney, former CEO of Golden Rule Insurance Co., passed away in his sleep last night. He was 80. Rooney was a big political contributor to many Republicans and occasionally a Democrat. He ran for a short while for Indiana governor back in 1996. I always saw him as fellow Illinoisan. He and his family spent many years in Lawrenceville, Illinois where Golden Rule was founded. He was quite active in Illinois Republican politics when I was growing up there. As I recall, he didn't have much fondness for the moderate Republicans who ran the Illinois Republican Party. He irked Illinois Gov. James Thompson so much one time the governor had his Department of Insurance threaten to de-domesticate Golden Rule, which all of you Hoosiers always thought was headquartered here. I think he found the Indiana Republican Party a little bit more to his ideological liking. Rooney was a very generous man as Wall's story notes, contributing to many good causes.


Eric Schansberg said...

For a long time, I've admired Rooney for his work on privately-funded educational vouchers. A lot of conservatives don't care all that much about the inner-city poor; a lot of liberals say they care, but are beholden to statism, elitism and the teachers unions.

Thank God for people like JPR who stepped outside those boxes.

Shofar said...

It has been people like Mr. Rooney and Milton and Rose Friedman who have led the charge to change public schooling in America.

Dr. Friedman and his wife Rose established the Friedman Foundation in 1996 to advocate for school choice, and a change in the way public education is thought of in the United States. Dr. Friedman died in November, 2006, but the Foundation still works at advancing choice for parents.

The loss now of both of these men is a loss to disadvantaged students.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Actually Rooney was running to win the Governor's Office in 1996, but dropped out in 1995 before getting to the primary.

I remember because I worked for Rex Early who was running for the nomination against Steve Goldsmith.


Nick said...

A minor point of clarification. I think Rooney briefly ran for guv in '96, not 2000. That was the year Witwer and Goldsmith ran. I remember his ads on TV and radio in late '95 or so, long before the primary. I was going to make a donation (my first, as I was still in high school) on the very day he dropped out.

I heard him speak in '98. It seemed like he had a couple educational initiatives on the CA ballot that fall.

Sadly, when people denigrate big business, they often are ignorant of philanthropists like JPR.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for the correction, Paul.