Gerson P. Bakar, campus alumnus, dies at 89

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Gerson P. Bakar, campus alumnus and Haas School of Business philanthropist, died Monday, according to a campus press release. Bakar was 89 years old.

Bakar graduated from UC Berkeley in 1948 with a *bachelor of science in business administration, according to Dean of Haas Business School Rich Lyons.

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Bakar became one of the most successful real estate developers in the Bay Area, according to a Bancroft Library archive.

“He had an eye for transformative projects,” Lyons said. “He had the vision to see that a whole area or a whole neighborhood could be completely transformed.”

Lyons said in 2005, Bakar donated $25 million to Haas to support a building for executive education, which was redirected to support the hiring of more Haas faculty.

He also funded a scholarship for campus MBA students and mentored them in their last year of their program every year, according to Nancy Wallace, a professor of the business school.

“I believe he was a truly unselfish supporter of the university,” Bakar Fellow Holger Müller said in an email. “He liked to keep a low profile and didn’t try to bask in the well-deserved gratitude and admiration from the many people he helped.”

In addition to being a real estate developer, he was a respected businessperson and a philanthropist, according to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Director Neal Benezra.

Benezra expressed heartfelt condolences toward Bakar’s friends and family in an email. He added that Gerson’s legacy would be felt indefinitely by the organization.

“From the expansion of the collection to the 1995 opening of our landmark Mario Botta building in SFMOMA, Gerson encouraged us not only to pursue our goals but to exceed them,” Benezra said in an email. “I can say with certainty that the museum would not have made the bold and pioneering move from the Veterans Building to Third Street without his dedication and leadership.”

Many organizations, in addition to UC Berkeley and SFMOMA, have benefited from Bakar’s contributions, including UCSF’s Mission Bay campus and the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, according to Benezra.

Lyons said in his personal life everyone could see that Bakar was sincere, conscientious, authentic and “the real deal.”

Bakar had also supported Lyons in his early years at the business school, Lyons said.

“Gerson once said that it was the community leaders that preceded him who inspired him to engage in philanthropy,” Benezra said in an email. “I can only imagine the inspiration Gerson will be to the next generation of philanthropists.”

He is survived by his wife and extended family, according to the press release.

There will be a memorial service held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 9 at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Street in Oakland, according to Benezra.

Contact Jamari Snipes at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JamariSnipes.

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