People knew Alex G. Spanos '48 as a passionately devoted family man whose business ventures flourished beyond imagination and as a man who gave selflessly of his time, experience and wealth. The University of the Pacific community also knew him as a beloved friend and son whose indelible imprint will live on.
A Stockton native and self-made billionaire, Mr. Spanos died Oct 9, 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers announced, following a long illness. He was 95.
"Alex Spanos' success in business and his personal life deserves an immense amount of respect," said Kevin Huber '86, current chair of Pacific's Board of Regents and president and CEO of Grupe Commercial Co. 'His level of success in business and life is rare, but his generosity to the Stockton community, and especially Pacific, is even more rare. As a Pacific student in the 1980s, I had a hint of what he meant to the university, but it was only after I graduated and continued to be involved with my alma mater that I could see the true impact that he and his family have had on Pacific. It's rather incredible, really. His influence, and the ongoing influence of his family, will be felt at this university for generations to come."
Attending Pacific in the 1940s, Spanos earned varsity letters in swimming and diving. During those formative years, he developed a rich love for the university, which he later demonstrated through financial gifts, partnerships and service as a long-time member of the Pacific Board of Regents.
Dedication to Pacific
"Alex was one of the largest supporters that the university has ever had," said Douglass Eberhardt '59, CEO and chairman of the Bank of Stockton and a former Pacific Regent. "He was involved in the philanthropy of the Stadium Club, the Alex G. Spanos Center, Faye Spanos Concert Hall for the Conservatory of Music, just countless things for the university that are immeasurable. Whether it (was) athletics, the arts, the sciences or benefitting the general curriculum, he gave to everything. His footprint is no doubt in every sector of the university's accomplishments."
Mr. Spanos' contributions exemplify the very heart of the Pacific experience of living, learning and leading with purpose.
"There have been very few people who have meant as much to University of the Pacific as has Alex G. Spanos," said Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck. "Everyone at Pacific — and generations of future Pacific students who will benefit from his generous heart — are eternally grateful for his love of Pacific and what he has done for the university. His dedication to what we do in the classrooms, in athletics and beyond was exceptional by any standard. His impact on this university over the years and the support he gave freely was extraordinary."
While the most visible impact Mr. Spanos had on Pacific are the Alex G. Spanos Center and the Faye Spanos Concert Hall, his legacy reached the classroom as well.
Philanthropy and purpose
Following in their parents' philanthropic footsteps, Alex and Faye Spanos' four children honored them in 1974 for their 25th wedding anniversary by establishing the Alex and Faye Spanos Endowed Teaching Award Fund, which recognizes a College of the Pacific faculty member who embodies Pacific's commitment to teaching and concern for student achievement.
"We are indebted to Alex and his family for renovating Faye Spanos Concert Hall to showcase our renowned Conservatory of Music and for endowments that support our outstanding students and faculty," said Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Pallavicini.
Mr. Spanos' constant desire to provide opportunities for students with hardships to attend college is shown no more clearly than in Joy Chiang '19, a first-generation college student who escaped from an abusive home and learned as a child the daily struggles of making ends meet with her mother and siblings. During a scholarship acceptance speech, Joy expressed her appreciation to the Spanos family.
"Each morning, I wake up as a proud Pacific Tiger, knowing that I would not be here today attending this university if it were not for your generosity and commitment to helping students like me make their dreams become reality and for enabling me to lead a life of purpose," said Chiang.
A passion for sports
Mr. Spanos was the driving force and major contributor to the construction of Alex G. Spanos Center, the venue for countless Pacific Athletics games and practices, major community events and graduations, and the home to Pacific's men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams. Groundbreaking for the center was in August 1979 and it was dedicated in September 1981. He gave generously to the renovations of Faye Spanos Concert Hall in 1987 to honor his wife, and to Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Stadium's Pacific Club in 1973 when Pacific had a football team.
"Alex was always a football enthusiast," recalled Eberhardt. "Margie and I would sit with he and his wife Faye at the football games years ago in the stadium club. He loved football and he had a huge place in his heart for Pacific. We had great times together there watching the Tigers play, and I always knew from that that it was a goal of his to own his own professional football team."
Which is what Mr. Spanos pursued. He owned the NFL's San Diego Chargers (now Los Angeles Chargers). His son Dean Spanos '72, also a former member of the Pacific Board of Regents, is the controlling owner and chairman of the board for the team.
"Alex Spanos was a difference-maker who was strategic and forward thinking without limits," said Janet Lucas, Pacific's athletic director. "His loss is felt deeply by the university, communities, and lives touched through his philanthropic and business endeavors. Mr. Spanos has been instrumental in supporting and elevating the Pacific Athletics Program over decades, which intrinsically impacted the lives of countless students. His influence on the growth and development of the Stockton community and beyond truly surpassed any realm of consideration and this influence will live on through his greatest achievement, the Spanos family legacy."
The legacy continues
His son Michael '81, daughter Dea Berberian and son-in-law Barry Ruhl '74, '77 have each served as regents, and son-in-law Ronald Berberian '65 is a current regent. The family was given the Alumni Association Outstanding Family Award in 2002.
"The Spanos family has been a beloved part of University of the Pacific since 1972," said President Eibeck. "We have had a member of the Spanos family on our Board of Regents continuously since then, and this represents their deep commitment to Pacific and their tremendous amount of leadership, time and generosity."
Mr. Spanos' tremendous, transformative impact on Pacific is immeasurable. What he has done for academics, athletics and student life here at Pacific will inspire generations to come.