NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Walter B. Gerken, former chairman and chief executive officer of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company from 1975 to 1986, passed away on October 5, 2015, at the age of 93.
Mr. Gerken was a native of New York, served for four years during World War II in the Army Air Force where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in economics in 1948. Mr. Gerken received a master of public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 1958.
Under Mr. Gerken’s tenure, Pacific Mutual nearly quadrupled in size and achieved his goal to bring Pacific Mutual into the top 20 insurance companies. Mr. Gerken was very influential in the decision for the company to relocate from Los Angeles to Orange County. Pacific Life was the first company to purchase land from the Irvine Company at Fashion Island, which it still owns today in Newport Beach.
Under Mr. Gerken’s leadership, Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) was founded as a subsidiary of Pacific Life. He was instrumental in guiding that company’s success.
Mr. Gerken was passionate about community affairs and served as a chairman, director or trustee on the boards of United Way of America, Orange County Performing Arts Center, South Coast Repertory, California Nature Conservancy, Hoag Memorial Hospital Foundation Presbyterian, W.M. Keck Foundation, Southern California Edison Co., Times Mirror Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, Irvine Foundation Board, Carter Hawley Hale Stores, and Whittaker Corporation. He also held board seats on the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the Automobile Club of Southern California, and KCET, the public broadcasting channel in Los Angeles. Notably, he served on the Business Advisory Commission for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Equally as passionate about education, he was elected a Regent’s Professor at UC Irvine’s graduate school of management. In 1988 Mr. Gerken was a recipient of UC Irvine’s highest honor, the UCI Medal, awarded for significant contribution to the campus and the Walter B. Gerken Endowed Chair in Enterprise and Society was established by the school in 1998. Additionally, he was chairman at Occidental College and Trustee Emeritus of Wesleyan University.
Since 1995, the Pacific Life Foundation has recognized one outstanding nonprofit agency with the Walter B. Gerken Community Service Award at its annual Grants Reception. The Foundation, of which Mr. Gerken was founding chairman, is a corporate foundation engaged in meeting the critical needs of our communities. The award is a commendation to the spirit of Mr. Gerken who was devoted to the betterment of society and a supporter of those who share that devotion.
“Walter was a man of vision and action who helped build Pacific Life into what it is today,” said Jim Morris, chairman and CEO of Pacific Life. “And he was a leading example of how to make a difference in the community.”
Mr. Gerken and his wife, Darlene Stolt, were residents of Corona del Mar and raised six children. Mr. Gerken will be remembered for his leadership and commitment to Pacific Life and the community. Pacific Life extends our thoughts to his family during this time.
The Gerken family will be holding a celebration of life on Saturday, November 14th, at 11 a.m. at the Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach, CA. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Gerken’s memory can be made to the Orange County Vital Brain Aging Program, the United Way or a charity of your choice.
About Pacific Life
Offering insurance since 1868, Pacific Life provides a wide range of life insurance products, annuities, and mutual funds, and offers a variety of investment products and services to individuals, businesses, and pension plans. Pacific Life counts more than half of the 100 largest U.S. companies as its clients. For additional company information, including current financial strength ratings, visit www.PacificLife.com.
Pacific Life refers to Pacific Life Insurance Company and its affiliates, including Pacific Life & Annuity Company. Client count as of June 2015 is compiled by Pacific Life using the 2015 FORTUNE 500® list.