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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

PacLife Mourns a Key Figure in Pimco's Birth

News summary by MFWire's editors

A key figure in the story of Pimco passed away last week at the 93.

Yesterday Pacific Life confirmed that Walter Gerken, former chairman and CEO of the insurer, died on October 5.

Bloomberg, L.A. Biz, and the Orange County Business Journal all reported on the news.

Gerken first joined PacLife in 1967. Later he was a key part of PacLife's decision to move from Los Angeles to Newport Beach in the O.C. And it was under Gerken that the famous bond investing shop was born as a PacLife subsidiary in 1972. (Pimco later merged with a publicly-traded company before being bough by current owner, Allianz, in 2000.)

"Walter was a man of vision and action who helped build Pacific Life into what it is today," states Jim Morris, current chairman and CEO of PacLife. "And he was a leading example of how to make a difference in the community."

An alumnus of Wesleyan and Syracuse, Gerken hailed originally from New York. During World War II he served in the Air Force (then part of the Army) and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was involved in a host of community and charity organizations, including: the Automobile Club of Southern California, the business advisory commission for the 1984 LA Olympics, California Nature Conservancy, Hoag Memorial Hospital Foundation Presbyterian, the Irvine Foundation Board, KCET (the public broadcasting channel in LA), the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Pacific Life Foundation (of which Gerken was founding chairman), South Coast Repertory, United Way of America, and the W.M. Keck Foundation. He was also involved with Carter Hawley Hale Stores, Southern California Edison Co., LA Times owner Times Mirror Co., Whittaker Corporation.

Gerken was chairman of Occidental College and trustee emeritus of his alma mater Wesleyan. He was elected a regent's professor of UC Irvine's graduate school of management, and he received the UCI medal from the school in 1988.

Starting in 1995, the Pacific Life Foundation has recognized one nonprofit each year with the Walter B. Gerken Community Service Award. And in 1998 UC Irvine established the Walter B. Gerken Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Society.

Gerken's wife, Darlene Stolt, died in 2009. They lived in Corona del Mar and raised six children. The family will be holding "a celebration of life" at 11am on November 14 at the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. They're asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations in Gerken's memory be directed to the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program, the United Way, "or a charity of your choice." 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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