Local Obituaries

‘Soy bean king’ Dwayne Andreas, who brought nations together, dies at 98

Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, Don and Mary Anne Shula, and Dwayne Andreas at a Barry University fundraiser at the Surf Club in 1996.
Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, Don and Mary Anne Shula, and Dwayne Andreas at a Barry University fundraiser at the Surf Club in 1996. Miami Herald file

Dwayne Orville Andreas has had many titles bestowed on him: the Soy Bean King and Deep Pockets, among them.

Andreas, a part-time resident of Bal Harbour, was chief executive officer of Archer Daniels Midland, a $14 billion giant and the world’s largest grain processor.

He, along with his wife, the late D. Inez Andreas, donated millions to local charities like Community Partnership for the Homeless, where they were the organization’s largest cash supporters; Miami Dade’s Homeless Assistance Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Andreas was a heavy contributor to major political parties, both Republican and Democratic, and was one of the biggest donors to Barry University.

He was a billionaire but the agribusiness innovator and lifelong advocate for the world’s hungry found his greatest satisfaction sharing the wealth.

“The one thing that is more gratifying than successfully making money is giving it away to a wonderful cause,” Andreas told the Miami Herald in 1997, after the couple gave $2.2 million to the Homeless Assistance Center.

Andreas died at 98 on Nov. 16 at his home in Decatur, Ill.

Barry University President Sister Linda Bevilacqua praised a “valued friend” on Wednesday.

“The Barry University community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our esteemed benefactor, Dwayne O. Andreas. We were honored and blessed by his affirmation of our university mission and his financial support for the establishment of the Barry School of Law that bears his name. Barry’s commitment to social justice resonated with Mr. Andreas and aligned with his passion to alleviate world hunger,” she said.

Andreas’ wife, who died in 2012, was a distinguished Barry Alumna and Trustee Emerita and served for 20 years as the chairperson of the Barry University Board of Trustees. She was the longest serving board chair.

For Andreas, the fifth of six children born to Mennonite parents in Worthington, Minn., on March 4, 1918, the lifelong lessons that he developed in his formative years served him as he became one of the country’s leading spokesmen for agriculture.

At 9, at the family farm in Lisbon, Iowa, he began working at his father’s grain elevator, helping mix the feed that fed the pigs, cattle and chickens they raised and that was sold to local cattlemen.

This early start led the man who later established relationships with every U.S. president from Truman to Clinton and from foreign leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Shimon Peres to say: “Everything of consequence that I know about business I learned between the ages of 8 and 12.”

In a rare 1994 interview on the Herald’s Viewpoint page — Andreas gave few interviews, preferring to let his deeds define him — he affirmed the comment.

“I grew up on a farm and, with my brother, had a great deal of responsibility,” he said. “Farmers are the best businessmen — far better than large corporate bureaucrats — because they have to be. At that young age I learned about buying, transport, shrinkage (when grain blows off the back of a truck), setting sales prices, bookkeeping, interest on debt (and that compound interest will kill you) and how much of your profit you can afford to spend (vs. reinvesting it in the business).

“That old school way is the quickest and best way to learn,” he continued. “There’s no question that the little one-room schoolhouse I attended was far superior to America’s public schools today.”

At 30, Andreas began the Andreas Foundation, the source of much of his philanthropy.

President John F. Kennedy appointed Andreas to the American Food for Peace Council. During the Cold War, as a strong advocate for closer ties between the United States and Soviet Union and as chairman of the US-USSR Trade and Economic Council, the businessman helped connect Soviet leader Gorbachev with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who appointed him to the Task Force on International Private Enterprise.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said of him: “Andreas is the smartest man I have ever met.”

Andreas would later say in the Herald, “Trade is too important to be left to governments. We must educate both governments and the people to understand that cooperating with business benefits everyone.”

Andreas is survived by children Sandra Andreas McMurtrie, and Terry and Michael Andreas, 10 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen