John Arrillaga, Silicon Valley developer and top Stanford University donor, dies at 84

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John Arrillaga, a savvy Silicon Valley real estate developer who turned excellent timing for one of the great building booms in California history into a fortune that greatly benefited his alma mater, the University of Stanford, died Monday at age 84.

His death was announced by his daughter, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, in an online post. No details were given other than that Arrillaga passed away peacefully with his wife, Gioia and two children John, Jr. and Laura at his bedside.

“RIP my stepfather and hero John Arrillaga,” tweeted Marc Andreesen, a venture capitalist.

Arrillaga Alumni Center, Arrillaga Science Center, and Arrillaga Family Center at Stanford’s Ronald McDonald House were all funded by Arrillaga. As a former college basketball player, athletics was a special interest and area of ​​support, hence the Arrillaga Family Athletic Center, Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, Education Center and Arrillaga Outdoor Recreation Center, Arrillaga Gymnasium and Weight Room, Arrillaga Dining Hall, and Arrillaga Rowing and Sailing Center. But the project he is best known for was not named after him – Stanford Stadium, which he essentially rebuilt to downsize its seats and modernize it, a job he managed to complete in nine months, most of it spent in a golf cart. personally supervising the construction, so as not to miss a single season.

“John believed in college sports and he believed in Stanford,” athletic director Bernard Muir said in a statement. “Through his unparalleled passion and transformational impact, he laid the foundation for Stanford to achieve remarkable things, and we will do our best to live up to his legacy.”

In total, Arrillaga is credited with building or major gifting 200 projects on the Stanford campus, as well as endowing 57 full scholarships, 38 of which are for athletes. Over 300 students have received these complete rides over the years, including athletes Tiger Woods, Katie Ledecky and Christian McCaffrey. Arrillaga also built graduate student housing, and in 2013 he topped it off with a $151 million cash gift, the largest ever at Stanford.

“Few demonstrate more forcefully how the impact of generosity outlasts the act of giving,” Arrillaga-Andreessen said in a statement. “He gave unceasingly to his community, to others – known and unknown to him – and set a powerful example for all those around him to do the same.”

Arrillaga was born on April 3, 1937, in Inglewood, where he was raised as one of five children. His father, Gabriel Arrillaga, had been a professional soccer goalie and later found work as a laborer in the Los Angeles commodity market. His mother, Freda was a nurse. Arrillaga attended Morningside High School where he served as student body president. He was also 6ft 4in tall and a basketball star.

At Stanford, he started for three years under coach Howie Dallmar. After being named team captain for the 1959-60 season, he was named to the All-Conference First Team and All-American Third Team.

This won him an athletic scholarship to Stanford in 1955, paid for by an individual benefactor he never met. It’s a gesture he never forgot. The scholarship covered tuition, but not books or living expenses, and Arrillaga worked at various jobs to succeed – dishwasher, postman, gardener, cook – while also serving as captain of the basketball team. .

Upon graduation in 1960, he made his first donation to Stanford, a double-digit sum, according to his daughter. His degree was in Geography and he showed a great sense of direction where to go to find money. It was just south of campus in the apricot orchards of the Santa Clara Valley. He bought his first commercial building with the money he earned selling insurance. After fixing the first building, he was able to collect enough rent to pay a deposit on his second building and he was on his way.

He and his partner Richard Peery formed the Peery Arrillaga Company and over the years have built corporate campuses for Apple, Google and Cisco, among others, totaling 20 million square feet, all debt-free. After 50 years in business, Peery and Arrillaga have sold most of their portfolio to an investment firm for $1.1 billion.

In 2009, Arrillaga was awarded the Uncommon Man degree, Stanford University’s highest honor for service to the institution.

“Our community mourns the loss of John Arrillaga, whose extraordinary generosity had a profound impact on our university for more than half a century,” Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement. a statement. “John’s support has changed the lives of countless Stanford students. He has also transformed our physical campus – his deep philanthropic support is matched only by the gift of his time and expertise in architecture, construction and more.

Arrillaga was predeceased by his first wife, Frances C. Arrillaga. Survivors include his wife Gioia Fasi Arrillaga; daughter Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen; son John Arrillaga, Jr.; and four grandchildren.

Service information was not immediately available.

Sam Whiting is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: swhiting@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @samwithingsf


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