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Kenneth Rainin

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Photo Kenneth Rainin Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, is dead at 68 Kenneth Rainin, an unstoppable entrepreneur who built his fortune founding scientific and medical products companies and who later parlayed his wealth and management expertise into many charitable causes, died on Wednesday at his home in Piedmont. He was 68. Mr. Rainin entered the business world shortly after his discharge from the US Army as a manufacturer's representative of scientific instruments that were sold to research laboratories. At the age of 25, he founded Rainin Instrument Company which initially distributed laboratory instruments and supplies. Mr. Rainin secured the rights to sell a line of laboratory pipettes, and through design improvements, built the Pipetman into the dominant brand of pipettes used in laboratories. Later Mr. Rainin developed his own line of ergonomic pipettes which are now recognized as the standard around the world. Mr. Rainin leveraged the engineering talent of his business to create three additional companies, two in scientific instruments, and Ioptex, Inc., a manufacturer of intraocular lenses. Mr. Rainin pioneered the use of soft acrylics in foldable minimally invasive IOLs, which today are the standard of care in cataract surgery. Science was not his only business interest; other ventures included food manufacturing, wine production and the gaming/hospitality industry. Mr. Rainin eschewed high priced consultants, sophisticated technology applications and painstaking analysis for gut instinct. A business colleague said "Ken's genius was defining a product's ultimate distinctive value, making it, and then booking orders. No one could influence him, no one wanted to. His formula always worked." Mr. Rainin was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1938. The son of William and Betty Rainin, he was the eldest of three children. He graduated from Ohio State University before enlisting in the Army. His family's financial struggles during his upbringing catalyzed a penchant to be independent. While never slowing down in business, Mr. Rainin threw himself into many civic and cultural activities in the Bay Area. Among his greatest passions was the San Francisco Ballet, of which he was the Former Chairman of the Executive Committee and a Former Regent of St. Mary's College, among many of his other charitable causes. He created the Kenneth Rainin Foundation which supports research at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School as well as medical research at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Many would argue his greatest talent lay in design and innovation. In all of his businesses, he had a gift for taking an existing product and making it better. He also used these talents to build two of the world's most elegant motor yachts, each christened Rasselas, named after Samuel Johnson's epic fictional character, The Prince of Abyssinia, who traveled with comrades throughout ancient Arabian lands in restless search for new visions and happiness. Mr. Rainin is survived by a daughter, Jennifer Rainin; a son, Jesse Rainin; two grandsons and a brother, Edgar Rainin. A Memorial Service will be held on Monday, May 14th, 4:00pm at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., San Francisco. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UCSF Foundation-Center for Colitis & Crohn's Disease, 44 Montgomery St., Suite 2200, San Francisco, CA 94104.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 6, 2007
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