October 18, 2018

Guilford Glazer, leading Los Angeles philanthropist, dies at 93

Guilford Glazer, a strong supporter of Israel, leading Los Angeles philanthropist and real estate developer, died in his Beverly Hills home on Dec. 23, 2014, at 93. 
 
Glazer was well known for his support of Israeli universities, including Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, among other causes, and for his friendships with prominent Israeli leaders, from Israeli Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, to Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu.
 
Glazer was born in 1921 in Knoxville, Tenn. He was one of eight children, and he attributed his love of philanthropy to his parents, Ida and Morris, who taught him the value of giving though the family was not wealthy. His father ran a small welding company.
 
Glazer studied engineering at George Washington University and metallurgy at the University of Louisville, but he never graduated from either school. His father died in 1939, and two years later, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Glazer followed in the footsteps of several of his brothers and enlisted in the military. He served in the U.S. Navy and in the U.S. Coast Guard.
 
When he returned home, he took over his father’s welding business and eventually renamed it Glazer Steel Corp. During the 1950s and ’60s, he developed shopping centers, moving to Los Angeles and most famously opening the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance in 1971. In 2005, Forbes magazine estimated Glazer’s net worth at $900 million.
 
Glazer’s devotion to philanthropy sprang from his success in the business world. John Fishel, a friend of the Glazers who assists with their philanthropic endeavors, estimated that Glazer had donated tens of millions of dollars over the course of his lifetime.
 
“And he continued up until the day he passed away to be annually giving more to a variety of causes that he felt very passionate about,” said Fishel, a former president of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. 
The Glazers co-founded the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at TAU. Glazer also held an honorary doctorate from TAU and is the founder of American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), which cultivates donor relations for TAU in the Diaspora.
 
He was also the principal supporter of the business school at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, known as the Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management at Ben-Gurion University.
 
Several years ago, Glazer and his wife of 47 years, Diane Pregerson Glazer, created the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies at Pepperdine University. Glazer also supported The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, numerous synagogues and TRIBE Media Corp., parent company of the Jewish Journal.
 
In the business world, he had dealings with France, as Glazer Steel Corp. helped to rehabilitate that country in the wake of World War II; he also cultivated Jewish studies in China — in particular the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute of Jewish Studies based in Nanjing.
 
Meanwhile, his relationship with Israel dates back to the formation of the Jewish state. He even brought an Israeli delegation, including Meir, to inspect a water system in Knoxville, Tenn. He counted retired Israeli diplomat Avi Pazner among his close friends.
 
Rabbi David Wolpe once asked Glazer what advice he would give young philanthropists:
 
“Anyone who is worse off than … [you] are, you have to help them.” 
 
Glazer is survived by his wife, Diane Pregerson Glazer; his two children, Emerson and Erika; and five grandchildren.