The financial manager was inspired to support vision research by his mother’s Bible stories.
John A. Moran, the financial executive and philanthropist whose interest in vision led to the founding of the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah, has died.
Moran died on Saturday, September 23, the university said Wednesday. No cause of death was given, but he “was surrounded by his family when he passed away peacefully,” according to a university news release. He was 91.
“John’s death leaves a huge hole in our hearts,” said Dr. Randall J. Olson, CEO of the Moran Eye Center, in the university’s press release. “He was a true friend with a desire to help others, and his commitment to our vision of providing hope, understanding and treatment deeply motivated me and everyone at Moran to strive for excellence.”
Moran made his money in finance – he started at an investment bank in 1958 after serving in the U.S. Navy and left in 1998 as president and CEO of private holding company Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp. into retirement – but it was a meeting with Olson and hearing how Olson dreamed of conducting research that could eventually restore sight to the blind touched him.
Neither Moran nor his family had any vision problems. But while talking to Olson, Moran once recalled Bible stories his mother told him as a child. “I was particularly touched by the story of the blind beggar, the power of faith and the miraculous restoration of his sight,” Moran wrote.
This Bible story, Moran wrote, is a reminder that “we must never give up hope that we can achieve things previously thought impossible.”
A donation from Moran was used to construct the center’s first building, the university said, and he also helped build the center’s current headquarters in 2006 – a five-story building he helped design with a wall of stained glass windows Patients receiving the center receive access to vision-restoring surgeries and treatments with views of the Salt Lake Valley.
John A. Moran was born on March 22, 1932 in Los Angeles and his family moved to Salt Lake City in 1941. He attended the University of Utah, earned money for tuition by waiting tables, and worked as a city flag boy for a Lake City Salt road crew and winding signal cable at Hill Air Force Base. Shortly after his father’s death, he completed his banking and finance studies in 1954.
He served three years in the Navy as an intelligence officer for the commander of the Pacific Fleet before beginning his financial career at the investment bank Blyth & Company in 1958.
In 1967, Moran joined Dyson-Kissner Corp. at, a private holding company. When he became a partner, his name was added to the company name.
Moran was a major donor and fundraiser for the Republican Party. From 1993 to 1995 he was chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee. He was finance chairman for Kansas Senator Robert Dole’s unsuccessful 1996 presidential campaign and co-chair of the Republican Leadership Council in Washington and co-chair of John McCain’s National Finance Committee for his 2008 presidential campaign.
At the University of Utah, Moran was also a supporter of the LS Skaggs, Jr. Pharmacy Research Building, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He was an honorary trustee of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (where he funded the John A. and Carole O. Moran Gallery of later Roman art and sarcophagi) and a trustee of the George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovation Cancer Research and the MD Anderson Cancer Center University of Texas.
When he received the Horatio Alger Award in 2012, Moran said that success is “not the money.” Success means being happy with what you have achieved and being happy with yourself for what you do. That’s all I am. No better, no worse than anyone else.”
Moran is survived by his wife, Carole, their three daughters – Kellie, Marisa and Elizabeth – as well as five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Memorial services have not been announced.