July 29, 2011
Words from Dean Olian on the Passing of John E. Anderson
Philanthropist and community leader was 93
It is with profound sadness that I share news of the passing this morning of John E. Anderson ('40). John was a leading figure in the California business community and a giant in the life of our school, which was named the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management in his honor in 1987. John would have been 94 in September.
John's gifts to others were innumerable, sharing his wisdom, time, leadership talents and financial support. John attended UCLA on a hockey scholarship, graduating in 1940 with a B.S. in business administration. He earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a law degree from the Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles. Until his passing, he was president of Topa Equities, Ltd., which owns and operates more than 33 businesses involved in agriculture, insurance, real estate, wholesale beverage distribution and automotive dealerships. John loved doing business and had a remarkable work ethic. He was at the Topa offices just yesterday.
John was the first and long-term chairman of UCLA Anderson's Board of Visitors and was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at UCLA Anderson in 2002 -- an award that bears his name. He was presented with the UCLA Medal in 1995, the university's highest honor. John served in leadership roles and received numerous other honors across the community. He cared about many causes and institutions. Most recently, as a result of a generous gift, Children's Hospital Los Angeles dedicated the Marion and John E. Anderson Pavilion.
John credited his Minnesota upbringing, and the lessons and values he learned while attending UCLA, for his success in business and community life. Giving back to the school was his way of enabling future generations to have the kind of opportunities that UCLA offered him. He considered it simply 'doing the right thing,' a motto he lived by. His $15 million gift in 1987 laid the foundation of excellence for the school; this year, he and Marion donated another $25 million.
Our history, built over 75 years, owes so much to John's leadership, engagement, contagious enthusiasm, bold vision and longtime support. And until recently, many of us were able to enjoy his good humor and astute advice as we chatted with him during his almost daily brisk walks through the campus.
John adored his family, and they adored him. Our heart goes out to Marion, his wife of 44 years, and to his children, Sue, Judy, John and Bill, 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, for their very sad loss.
I absolutely cherished my time with John for his remarkable stories, wise counsel, inviolate principles and innate gentleness. John did such good things for so many. He will be profoundly missed.
Dean & John E. Anderson Chair in Management