Don Nyrop Great Hall Dedicated
Doane President Jonathan Brand met Don Nyrop for the first time about six years ago. He didn't realize at the time that he was meeting a patriarch, someone who had cared about Doane since the 1930s.
"Every institution and board has its patriarch and at Doane, that person was Don," Brand said at a May 5 dedication ceremony honoring Nyrop's longtime, generous support of Doane.
About 75 people attended the ceremony re-dedicating a portion of Perry Campus Center in memory of the longtime Board of Trustee member. Brand, Board of Trustee members Ken Fridrich '54 and Ed Heilman '67, development associate Lillian Bunny Dudley '55, and Nyrop's daughter, Kathy Nyrop, spoke as the Don Nyrop Great Hall was unveiled.
They shared stories of Nyrop's graciousness, generosity, loyalty, and the legendary thriftiness that helped his company thrive in his years as CEO.
"Today, we honor a man and dedicate a space to someone who worked hard, cared about people, had good fortune, and considered Doane an important step in his journey from small town Nebraska to D.C. and Minnesota. He is hands down one of the most prominent alumni to ever graduate from Doane," Brand said.
Nyrop, an Elgin native, graduated from Doane in 1934 with a history degree, earned a law degree from George Washington University and then went on to a remarkable career in aviation. During World War II, he served as executive operations officer in the U.S. Army's Air Transport Command, returning to civilian life in 1946 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He held the highest civilian aviation posts in the U.S. Government, as Civil Aeronautics administrator and Civil Aeronautics board chairman.
In 1954, Nyrop become the aviation industry's youngest chief executive, taking the helm of Northwest Airlines, at the time a struggling airline with a poor safety record. Under his leadership for almost a quarter-century, Northwest became one of the country's most steadily profitable airlines with some of the industry's best safety records.
Nyrop was inducted into both the Minnesota and Nebraska Aviation Halls of Fame for his outstanding contributions to aviation.
Nyrop made an equal impact at Doane. He loyally supported his alma mater from the day he graduated until his retirement from Northwest when he became a 14-year member of Doane's Board of Trustees.
Nebraska and Doane remained beloved places in his heart throughout his life, Nyrop's daughter, Kathy Nyrop, said.
His interest in Doane's success lasted long after he left the Board of Trustees, according to President Brand. Brand's phone calls with Nyrop always began with Nyrop saying: "It's good to hear your voice," followed closely by: "How's enrollment?"
Nyrop passed away in November of 2010.
With the dedication of the Don Nyrop Great Hall "let's know we always have a place to come and visit him - right here," Brand said.