PAT ROONEY was a special kind of businessman. He did far more than merely provide jobs for employees and services for his customers, as important as those goals are. He helped change the course of public policy in our country because he believed in the power of ideas and invested his money and courage in furthering them. His death in September at age 80 robbed America of one of its most principled business leaders.
J. Patrick Rooney started out as a humble door-to-door insurance salesman who would gorge on pancakes for breakfast so he wouldn’t have to spend money on lunch or dinner. He eventually built his Indianapolis-based Golden Rule Insurance Company from nothing into a leader in the individual health insurance market. But he moonlighted as one of the country’s most innovative philanthropists and policy entrepreneurs.