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At the University of Utah, John A. Moran Eye Center Namesake Remembered for Generous Philanthropy and Dream to Restore Vision

John A. Moran Memorial Slideshow

John A. Moran often publicly shared a simple mantra: “You won’t be remembered for how much money you made, you will be remembered for what you did with it.”

Upon his passing on September 23, 2023, at the age of 91, Moran could indeed be remembered not only as a business leader whose success exemplified the American Dream but also as a man who had heeded his own words.

Moran dedicated much of the wealth he earned during his finance career to worthy non-profit organizations across the country. At the University of Utah, his beloved alma mater, he left a beacon of hope bearing his name: the John A. Moran Eye Center.

Moran wanted the center to provide compassionate care and make breakthroughs in research that would improve the treatment of blinding eye diseases.

John A. Moran
John A. Moran
"It is my hope that the research and the work that’s being done here will prevent diseases of the eye that cause blindness, and God willing, restore sight to people who have lost their vision."
John A. Moran in remarks at a news conference opening the current Moran Eye Center building.

Today, the center he championed is ranked among the 10 best in the nation for its care, education, and research and is known for its outreach to increase access to eye care in Utah and around the world.

“John’s death leaves a huge hole in our hearts,” said Moran Eye Center CEO Randall J Olson, MD. “He was a true friend with a desire to help others, and his dedication to our vision to provide hope, understanding, and treatment deeply motivated me and everyone at Moran to strive for excellence. We share our condolences with the Moran family, we honor John’s extraordinary life, and we are thankful to be a part of his legacy.”

Moran was born in Los Angeles on March 22, 1932, and his family moved to Salt Lake City in 1941. His father, who did not attend college, stressed the importance of an education. After high school, Moran enrolled at the University of Utah and worked as a city flag boy for the Salt Lake City road crew, rewinding signal wire at Hill Air Force Base, and as a waiter to pay his tuition. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity at the U. Moran’s father passed away from cancer shortly before his son earned a banking and finance degree in 1954.

After graduation, Moran spent three years in the U.S. Navy and served as an intelligence officer on the staff of the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet from 1955 to 1958. He then began his finance career at investment banking firm Blyth & Company, Inc.

In 1967, Moran joined Dyson-Kissner Corp., a private holding company with a portfolio of companies, including businesses engaged in manufacturing, retailing, distribution, financial services, and real estate development. When he became a partner, the company was renamed Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp. Moran served as its president and CEO before retiring in 1998.

A major contributor and fund-raiser for the Republican Party, Moran served as chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee from 1993 to 1995. He then became finance chairman of the Dole for President Campaign and co-chaired the Republican Leadership Council of Washington, D.C. He also co-chaired John McCain’s National Finance Committee.

At the University of Utah, Moran held an honorary Doctorate of Law and served on the school’s National Advisory Council, where he met Olson. 

While Moran had no vision issue himself or in his family, he was deeply moved by his mother’s teachings and Olson’s dedication to the mission of restoring sight. Moran wrote:

“When Dr. Olson told me about his dream to carry out research that might someday restore vision to the blind, it brought to my mind stories from the Bible that my mother had read to me as a child.

As a little boy, I was particularly touched by the story of the blind beggar, the power of faith, and the miraculous restoration of his sight. One of the reasons the Moran Eye Center exists is because my mother planted within me a belief in miracles.

The story of the blind man transcends one man and his dream and hope for vision. It reminds us that, as individuals, we must never give up hope that we can accomplish things that were previously considered impossible. That irresistible sense of hope that exists in each of us can be felt in this new building, in the hearts of those who will be caring for patients, and in those who are working to advance the science of human sight.”

A gift from Moran established the first center building. He also contributed to open the current Moran Eye Center building in 2006. Moran was instrumental in the design of the five-story center, which has a wall of glass windows that allow patients to see amazing views of the Salt Lake Valley after receiving sight-restoring surgeries and treatment.

Moran’s legacy at the University of Utah extends beyond vision. He was a passionate supporter of many areas on campus, including the L.S. Skaggs, Jr. Pharmacy Research Building, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Huntsman Cancer Institute

Throughout his lifetime, Moran served as director, trustee, and member at numerous organizations, companies, and institutions. He was a trustee of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he financed the John A. and Carole O. Moran Gallery for later Roman art and sarcophagi, and of the George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovation Cancer Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Moran was a director of the United Nations Association and the Foreign Policy Association.

In 2008, the Woodrow Wilson International Center selected Moran for its Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award. In 2012, Moran received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, which celebrates 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.”

In an interview accepting the Horatio Alger award, Moran humbly shared his philosophy on success: “It’s not the money,” he said. “Success is being satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, comfortable with yourself in terms of what you’re doing. That’s all I am. No better, no worse than anybody else.”

Moran is survived by his wife, Carole; daughters, Kellie, Marisa, and Elizabeth; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was surrounded by his family as he passed away peacefully.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the Moran family during this difficult time,” said Olson. “We all share in the loss of this amazing man.”