Accomplished alumnus. Outstanding friend.

During his lifetime, Henry B. Tippie traveled from the fields of Iowa to Wall Street to a Texas ranch, thanks to hard work, integrity, and generosity—and to his University of Iowa degree. Tippie (BSC49), who became one of the university’s most significant supporters and benefactors, died Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 in Austin, Texas. He was 95 years old. Read his full obituary.

Details about his memorial services in Belle Plaine, Iowa, and Austin, Texas, can be found here.

The Life of Henry Tippie

Henry Tippie as a young man with his livestock

Humble Beginnings

As a farm boy growing up in Belle Plaine, Iowa, Henry Tippie started his education in a one-room schoolhouse. In 1996, Henry B. Tippie spoke about his roots in small-town Iowa after being awarded the Horatio Alger Award. The award is given to those whose lives embody the Horatio Alger Association values "…including personal initiative and perseverance, leadership and commitment to excellence, belief in the free-enterprise system and the importance of higher education, community service, and the vision and determination to achieve a better future."

Henry Tippie in a B-29 Cockpit

World War II Veteran

After graduation from Belle Plaine High School in 1944, Henry enlisted in the Army Air Force at the age of 17. After his service in the 20th Air Force in the western Pacific, he was able to attend the State University of Iowa thanks to the G.I. Bill. He received his Bachelor of Science in Commerce (BSC) in accounting in 1949 after 24 consecutive months of study. In 2018, he took a flight in a B-29 Superfortress over his hometown in part to commemorate that time in his life.

Illustration of Henry and Pat Tippie

His Life-long Love

Henry and Patricia Tippie met when Patricia was a waitress at a diner. During the campaign to raise funds for the Pappajohn Business Building, Henry Tippie donated funds to build a 175-seat auditorium, a student lounge, and Pat's Diner, named for his wife, Patricia. They were married for 65 years.

Text graphic that says Tippie's Laws

Fundamental Rules for Business Success

No one becomes successful without a set of rules to live by, pithy words filled with wisdom. Henry B. Tippie was no different. His sage business advice was codified into a list by his son, Henry B. Tippie II, and became known as "Henry B. Tippie's Laws."

Henry Tippie rings the bell at the NYSE

Legendary Businessman

Henry B. Tippie brought innovative ideas to the world of business through his work with the company now known as Rollins, Inc. He was an instrumental part of the team that put together the company's purchase of Orkin Exterminating Company. This was one of the first large leveraged buyouts of its kind in U.S. corporate history. On August 10, 2018, Tippie made history again when he rang the closing bell at the NYSE 50 years after he was on hand for Rollins Inc. initial listing. Tippie was inducted into the NYSE Wall of Leaders, an honor only 16 other people have received, including Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon.

Henry Tippie at University of Iowa Commencement

University of Iowa Champion

Henry B. Tippie has had a tremendous impact on the University of Iowa, its students and faculty, as well as his hometown of Belle Plaine and the business world at large. Tippie was an original member of the college's Board of Visitors (now called the Tippie Advisory Board). In February 1999, college was renamed the Henry B. Tippie College of Business in his honor. Tippie received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Iowa in 2009.

Henry Tippie's 85th Birthday at Tippie College of Business

Big Band Fan

Henry was a life-long lover of big band music and booked the Glenn Miller Orchestra for his high school 50th reunion. In 2012, Henry Tippie celebrated his 85th birthday in Iowa City at a reception at the Tippie College of Business. The highlight was a surprise flash mob dancing to big band music and featuring appearances by University of Iowa President Sally Mason, Henry B. Tippie Dean William C. (Curt) Hunter, President and Chief Executive Officer of the UI Foundation Lynette Marshall, and the Henry B. Tippie Research Chair in Accounting Dan Collins.

Two of Henry Tippie's Books

The Evolution of Dr. No

Henry Tippie's personal history was memorialized twice in two books: Just the Facts by May K. Cobb published in 2003, and An Iowa Farm Boy on Detour by Margaret O. Kirk published in 2016. The 2016 book covers his small-town roots to the eve of his 90th birthday. It details how Henry Tippie got the nickname "Dr. No" as the financial watchdog of Rollins. His guiding principle was to guard the company's money like his own personal funds, and make careful, financially sound decisions.


"Henry Tippie's loss strikes at more than just a professional level, because Henry has become a friend and confidante since I became dean of the Tippie College of Business. His vast experience, wise counsel, and warm friendship have proven invaluable to me as a dean, as they were to my predecessors: Gary Fethke, Curt Hunter, and Sarah Gardial. His dry wit made me laugh many times and his incisive observations helped me see issues with more clarity. I will miss our phone conversations and his thoughtful reflection.

There’s no question that without Henry’s generous gifts and guidance the Tippie College of Business would not be ranked among the best business schools in the country. His truly American story of coming up from hardscrabble youth on an Iowa farm to become a business leader has inspired thousands of our students to launch successful careers of their own. His belief in the value of good people has allowed us to develop a committed and excellent faculty and staff, who help us accomplish our mission every day.

Henry built his personal and professional life on the principles of hard work and doing the right thing, and as a living illustration of the word integrity, he was a role model for our students. He served our country in World War II and brought innovative ideas to the business world as he helped build John Rollins and Associates into a portfolio of companies, five of which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Henry’s service to his alma mater was exemplary and his numerous honors much deserved. We will miss him greatly – as a benefactor, as a mentor, and as a truly good human being."

"Henry B. Tippie is an Iowa success story. Raised in Belle Plaine and active in the Air Force in the Pacific in WWII, Henry was conditionally admitted to the University of Iowa under the GI bill and graduated with an accounting degree. His varied experiences in the Air Force in WWII had a profound impact on his life by opening new opportunities and possibilities. Henry first worked as a business accountant in Des Moines, Omaha, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, married his great love and life-long supporter, Patricia, and eventually became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. HBT (his cattle brand) forged life in his own unique way. He enjoyed undeniable success with the Rollins family in the truck leasing world, Orkin Pest control (A Harvard Business Review case in 1968), Dover Downs Casino and Hotel, and NASCAR racing enterprises. He’s rung the opening bell on Wall Street numerous times. On his own entrepreneurial initiative, he created a 35,000-acre cow-calf ranch in Central Texas, developed oil and gas holdings, and built radio and TV enterprises. Throughout, his business acumen and private wealth management skills were exemplary, and his success stories reflected hard work, self-discipline, prudent management skills, risk taking, and value creation.

Henry affected simple “down home” values, but he was equally comfortable in a tuxedo in New York City and blue jeans in Waco. He honed the ability to relate with all levels of society, from CEOs and university presidents to janitors. While not lacking in self-confidence, his association with everyone was low key, genuine, curious, and heartfelt. He knew how to take risks and invest aggressively, and he was basically a humble man, who knew when to listen and observe. He was proud of his ability to “fade into the background” and to simply observe what was going on. He remembered every personal kindness and courtesy, and he rarely forgot a name.

His generosity and loyalty, while focused on a relatively few areas, was boundless. He began with a five-dollar unsolicited donation to the UI, and he kept the cancelled check to prove it. In Iowa, he focused on the Belle Plaine community, Kirkwood Community College, and, especially, on the University of Iowa’s College of Business. Its academic programs were named in his honor in 1999. He loved Iowa football and gave it his complete support and loyalty. Henry set broad restrictions and guidelines on his donations, and then trusted others to implement his priorities within those guidelines. He did not appreciate deviations from the guidelines he established as a donor. He could be very tough, was always consistent, and rewarded good performance with continued and reliable support. His intent was to have a lasting effect, to create permanent endowments, and to provide continued value for future generations. He liked people to know that he was responsible for creating opportunities, yet he greatly appreciated simple expressions of “thanks,” which he answered with a personally drafted and grammatically elegant response.

HBT especially enjoyed his name being promoted on his charitable “investments”, and he was immensely proud, and frequently surprised, by the recognition received from naming of the Henry B. Tippie College of Business: “You could have knocked me over with a feather.” When in Iowa City, he would often walk through the college and introduce himself to surprised students: “I’m Henry Tippie, what are you up to around here?” One day, while waiting in line at Pat’s Diner (named after Patricia Tippie), Henry paid for his lunch then left $200 dollars with cashier and told her to keep paying for student lunches until the funds ran out. He liked handing out these treats, maybe as much, or even more, than writing the big checks.

Most impressive were the structured and deceptive simplicity of the rules by which Henry led his life. He always believed that success in business required bringing in more cash than was spent. He was resolute and calm when faced with inevitable problems, even the occasional failures: “If you are in business long enough, things will go wrong.” A favored adage was: “Keep it simple,” and he did. Optimism, conditioned on reality, was ever present with Henry, and he really believed that: “Every day is a new day.” He was a plain, albeit complicated, man who achieved great things, thoroughly enjoyed his life, appreciated his friends, loved his wife, and made the world a better place."

"Henry Tippie loved the University of Iowa. According to Henry, his 1949 UI degree in Accounting launched him on the path to outstanding success in the business world for which he received many awards. Perhaps one of Henry’s most notable awards was his induction as the 17th member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Wall of Leaders for being the longest serving board member of a publicly traded company on NYSE (50 years).

Henry was a visionary. When he and his wife, Patricia, provided the gift to name the Tippie College of Business in 1999, he understood former President Sandy Boyd’s famous phrase, “It’s people, not structures that make a university great.” Through the years, Henry and his family members have provided funds to endow six faculty chairs, eight research professorships and 17 faculty research fellowships. This funding has helped to retain and attract nationally prominent faculty in all departments of the Tippie College. As the first recipient of a Henry B. Tippie Research Chair, I have spent 43 years on the faculty in the business college. I will be forever indebted to Henry for allowing me to have a rich and rewarding career here at Iowa.

Henry’s generosity has helped the college to launch innovative programs and has provided funding for faculty to present their research at prestigious universities in the U.S. and in 25 countries and five continents around the world. These presentations add to the national and international reputation of the Tippie College. Having nationally prominent faculty helps to attract outstanding junior faculty and doctoral students that further enhance the national prominence of the Tippie College. Henry clearly understood the “multiplier effect” of having nationally and internationally prominent faculty in the Tippie College.

Henry and Patricia’s generosity to fund undergraduate scholarships has provided the opportunity for countless students to come to the University of Iowa to earn their business degree. Henry has also enhanced the educational experience of many students in the College by providing funding for a full-time writing director in the Department of Accounting’s nationally acclaimed writing program.

It is hard to overstate the impact that Henry has had, and will continue to have, on the Tippie College of Business as well as other parts of the University of Iowa. We are all deeply saddened by Henry’s passing. But we take solace in knowing that his legacy will live on forever in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business."

“The University of Iowa, Iowa Athletics, and I personally, have lost a true friend and respected leader with the passing of Henry Tippie.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Patricia and the Tippie family. Everyone who had the good fortune to know and learn from his expertise and leadership, and share his friendship, is better professionally and personally as a result of that relationship.

His contributions to the University of Iowa are so widespread; his footprint in so many areas of our campus and the state of Iowa will last forever. His financial contributions to Iowa athletics are well documented, but the personal relationships with Henry and Patricia will stand forever.

And my condolences to all who knew Mr. Tippie."

“Mary and I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Patricia and the entire Tippie family. Henry was a generous financial contributor to the University of Iowa and our football program. He was also a friend to our coaches, staff and student athletes. His philosophy and approach to business was like our approach to football which is to work hard, assess what you did well, prepare to do better and then move forward. My initial hope when meeting Henry and Pat more than a decade ago was that they would make a gift to the football program. Not only did we receive a financial contribution, but it was the beginning of a close and wonderful friendship. Henry was a gracious, generous, and down to earth man who was committed to his wife and his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Henry’s family in their time of loss.”

"Henry was simply a remarkable man. For all his business acumen, he constantly surprised me with his passion for land conservation, his concern for "defective cows" he kept as pets, and the joy for Iowa he expressed through his philanthropy. That he left us with such dignity and grace is a testament to his unimpeachable character."