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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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J. Bruce Meriwether

MERIWETHER, J. Bruce. (Taylorville, IL, Jan. 25, 1938--June 25, 2022). Meriwether was annually ranked among the most influential people in the City of Dubuque. His personal involvement in the community was credited for pulling the city out of its economic slump in the late 1970s.

Meriwether came to Dubuque after being recruited for the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE basketball team by university president Gaylord M. COUCHMAN. Meriwether became the team captain and graduated in 1960 with a degree in business administration.

In 1960 he began work at FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE which he maintained except for a period between 1967 and 1968 when he left the bank to open an advertising agency. When William G. KRUSE became chairman of the board, Meriwether became president of the bank in 1981 and CEO in 1989. He held the office of president of Iowa Bankers Association from 1985-1986 (managed through the Farm Crisis) and retired in 1995 as president of HAWKEYE BANK OF DUBUQUE as it was being sold to Mercantile Bancorporation Inc. He remained as board chairman. (1)

In 1977 while a senior vice-president at First National, Meriwether, by then a former Chamber of Commerce president, was among those considered as a Republican candidate to challenge MICHAEL Blouin, the Second District Congressman. Meriwether had served as the chief fund-raiser for Thomas TAUKE. (2)

Meriwether built an array of civic involvement beginning with membership in the JAYCEES. He was chairman of the 1970 United Way fund drive. As president of the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE in 1976 he launched Project SOS (Support Our System) designed to remove growing skepticism of the American economic system, a leadership training seminar, an analysis of the Dubuque area economy and active support of Dubuque area highways and roads. (3) He was president of the Dubuque Community Theater and chairman of the 1981 University of Dubuque fund raising campaign.

Following a series of racial incidents in the community, Meriwether was instrumental in the formation of the DUBUQUE COUNCIL FOR DIVERSITY and then chaired the organization. (4)

In 1996 Meriwether, vice-chairman of the board of trustees and member of the board's executive committee since 1988, was named acting president of the University of Dubuque after the sudden departure of John J. AGRIA and until the appointment in 1998 of Jeffrey BULLOCK (5)

Among projects in which Meriwether took a leadership role included the effort that resulted in construction of the DUBUQUE-WISCONSIN BRIDGE. Working with other community business leaders, Meriwether raised $750,000 for the Welton Becket study that, detailing Dubuque's need to diversify its economy, led to the growth of TOURISM. In 1984 as chairman of the Economic Steering Committee, Meriwether suggested that to achieve the goals of Welton Becket Associates, the committee should be reshaped into a non-profit, development corporation which would coordinate development activities throughout the city. The new group called the Dubuque Area Economic Development Corporation, of which he was the charter president, eventually became the GREATER DUBUQUE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. (6) With his help, a financing arrangement was prepared establishing FDL FOODS INC. in the community.

He received the FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD in 1993 and was named honorary chairman of the DUBUQUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.



1. "Meriwether Good Choice," Telegraph Herald (editorial) Telegraph Herald, August 21, 1996, p. 3

2. "3 Dubuquers Among Possible Blouin Rivals," Telegraph Herald, April 28, 1977, p. 1

3. "Dubuque Chamber Launches Plan to Help Business' Image," Telegraph Herald, January 18, 1976, p 23

4. "J. Bruce Meriwether," Telegraph Herald, December 6, 2019, p. 5A

5. Krapfl, Mike, "Meriwether Named Acting UD President," Telegraph Herald, August 16, 1996, p. 2

6. Hendricks, Mike, "Five-Year Action Plan For Dubuque Lists Seven Goals," Telegraph Herald, Telegraph Herald, June 26, 1984, p. 13