|Birth: ||Oct. 23, 1940|
Los Angeles County
|Death: ||Jul. 23, 2012|
San Diego County
Philanthropist Dennis Avery, a hero of Borrego Springs and the Chinese-American community of San Diego, died Monday night, July 23, 2012, in San Diego surrounded by family and friends.
His health started deteriorating quickly about a week ago, his wife, Sally Tsui Wong-Avery said. He died in the intensive care unit at Sharp Memorial Hospital surrounded by about 30 people.
"It's a loss to the world because we have one less Dennis Avery here," she said Tuesday evening. "There is no other Dennis Avery in the world." He was 71.
Mr. Avery, heir to the Avery Dennison label fortune but a self-made success on his own, used his money for scores of charitable causes, often giving anonymously worldwide.
He was close friends with Stephen Hawking, but was also considered a friend by just about everyone with whom he came in contact.
In Borrego Springs he bought 3,000 acres in the early 1990s to keep it from ever being developed. He called the land Galleta Meadows Estate and opened it to the public.
In 2008 he got the idea to commission artist Ricardo Breceda of Perris to build metal sculptures of prehistoric beasts that once roamed the Borrego Valley.
The "Sky Art" now includes more than 130 sculptures that dot the Borrego Springs landscape on the Galleta Meadows land and have become a popular tourist attraction. See Video
"He meant the world to me," Breceda said Tuesday morning. "He was a great man. He was a good friend of mine. What can I say? I owe him my life. He took care of me and my friends. He takes care of everybody. Everybody is going to miss him."
Many considered Mr. Avery to be a confidant and somewhat of an icon. "Some people are bigger than life. He was that man," said "Okie" James McNatt, the honorary mayor of unincorporated Borrego Springs.
"We are really going to miss him. He was a pillar of our town," McNatt said.
Among the many things he gave to Borrego Springs were the football field lights, a Little League park, the Boys and Girls Club skatepark, and the Ocotillos that line the main street in town, McNatt said.
But most of his charitable giving was done quietly, often anonymously, said friend Diana Lindsay. He offered financial support to clinics and foundations worldwide. There's no telling, Lindsay said, how much he gave.
Sally Tsui Wong-Avery said her husband supported AIDS clinics in China, a library in Honduras, and a drug rehabilitation center in Hong Kong, among many charitable causes.
She said he put dozens of people through college. And he did it all without ever seeking the limelight or congratulations.
"I have lost the love of my life," she said. "I am mad. He promised me we would grow old together."
Mr. Avery was born Oct. 23, 1940 in Los Angeles. He spent many years living in Borrego Springs where he raised his children.
He was a retired attorney and graduate of Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge, to which he also substantially donated over the years. He worked for the San Diego City Attorney's Office in the 1970s, was an associate dean at Cal Western School of Law in the 1980s, where he also earned his law degree.
Along with his wife, Mr. Avery had long been involved in social services and language schools in China and locally. Last year he spent $6 million to open The Chinese Bilingual Preschool in Kearny Mesa.
A common thought expressed Tuesday by friends was how much Mr. Avery loved children and how he often seemed like a big kid himself.
He always treated people with respect and kindness, friends said, whether they were wealthy or the neediest of all.
"When you saw him at Little League he always had little kids around. He would be doing magic tricks and things like that," said Mark Jorgensen, the former superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which Mr. Avery also supported generously.
"People loved him and respected him. He allowed a lot of our kids to do things that normally they wouldn't have been able to do in a small town."
He is survived by his wife, Sally Tsui Wong-Avery; stepdaughter Natasha Wong; four children, Halina, Chris, Sara and Theodore Avery; brother Russell Durfee Avery; sister Judith Avery; and granddaughter, Halina Avery.
A memorial service is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 4 at All Saints Church, 625 Pennsylvania Ave., in Hillcrest.
source: Union Tribune Headline News
California Western Remembers Alumnus, Philanthropist Dennis S. Avery
Former assistant dean will be remembered for his support and friendship
SAN DIEGO, July 25, 2012 - California Western mourns the passing of alumnus, philanthropist, and former Associate Dean Dennis S. Avery ‘70, who died July 23, 2012 after a brief illness.
Avery remained a vital part of the law school community long after his graduation from the Point Loma campus. He served as Assistant and Associate Dean from 1979 to 1985 and was a lifetime patron of the California Western Law Review, for which he wrote and served on the editorial board as a student.
He was a loyal, engaged, and passionate philanthropist. With California Western School of Law as a major philanthropic focus, Avery contributed more than $2 million to the law school. His support and dedication ranged from specific campus programs, such as Proyecto ACCESO, to the support for student scholarship endowments.
Together with his wife Sally Wong-Avery '83, Avery contributed to numerous causes in the U.S. and abroad, including the Chinese School of San Diego, the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge University, and numerous social and educational causes through their Avery-Tsui Foundation.
"Dennis was more than an alumnus or a former faculty member, he was a friend," says Dean Steven R. Smith. "We are deeply saddened by this sudden loss of someone who meant so much to so many in our community. Our thoughts are with Dennis' wife Sally and the many family members and friends who mourn him."
The son of the founders of the Avery Dennison office supply company, Avery is survived by his wife Sally, children Halina, Christopher, Sara, Theodore, and Natasha; granddaughter Halina, brother Russell, and sister Judith.
Source: California Western School of Law Tribute
Union Tribune Obituary
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Dennis Avery always put others needs and wants first. A man who loved his family, travel, athletics and adventure, Dennis often recounted stories of his childhood.
His parents, R. Stanton and Dorothy Avery, were very busy growing their label company, Avery Dennison. However, their spontaneous family trips left lasting impressions on Dennis. Throughout his life, he continued to travel the world and even lived in Germany in his 20s.
Dennis was a highly educated man. He attended Monrovia Duarte High School where he played varsity basketball. He earned his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his JD from Cal Western School of Law, his LLB from Trinity Hall at Cambridge University, and his MBA from Pepperdine University.
He would continue his connections to his schools, making generous donations to Cal Western and Cambridge. His love for adventure led him to learn to fly at the age of 15. For the earlier part of his life, he enjoyed surfing, riding his motorcycle, running half marathons, and building Ham radios.
He continued to travel the world in the latter part of his life, but he always remembered to correspond with those he cared about and express gratitude to those who helped him along the way in his life. His professional life was also varied. He worked in West Berlin on the British Railway. He had a contractor and real estate license, working in home building. He was the Chief of the San Diego City Attorney's Consumer Fraud Division. He served as the Dean of Students at Cal Western School of Law in the 1980s.
He also served on numerous boards of non-profit organizations, including the Avery Dennison Board of Directors. Everyone who knew him recounts stories of how he loved to perform magic tricks for children and that he had a great sense of humor. No matter who you were, he always made one feel as if you were the most important person to him.
His smile and presence would light up a room. He was also generous, donating time and money to causes and organizations locally in San Diego, Borrego, and internationally. He was a great friend to the San Diego Chinese community, volunteering his time to Chinese community events and providing money to many Chinese community organizations.
In Borrego, he helped build a skate park and most notably erected the metal animals throughout his land he called Galleta Meadows. Internationally, some of his donations included support for AIDs orphanages in South Africa, a library for a town in Honduras, clean drinking water for villages in South America, and helping send hundreds of wheelchairs for the disabled and training midwives in remote villages in Tibet.
Dennis passed away in Sharpe Memorial Hospital from cardiac arrest and multiple organ failure. He was surrounded by his wife, children, and other family and friends. Dennis is survived by his wife, Sally; siblings, Judy and Russell; children, Halina, Christopher, Sara, and Theodore; stepdaughter, Natasha; and two grandchildren, Halina and Kyler.
The funeral will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church located in Hillcrest on August 4 at 9 a.m. Donations can be made to Chinese Service Center of San Diego or to the Chinese School of San Diego. Please mail donations to 5075 Ruffin Road, Suite A, San Diego, CA 92123.
Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on August 1, 2012
Listen to Stephen Hawking Tribute to Dennis
Three Treasures Cultural Arts Society Tribute
David Ho remembers Dennis Avery - Video
Huell Howser interview with Dennis Avery & Ricardo Breceda - Video
Dennis speaking before a gathering in Borrego Springs - Video
Channel 8 News - Dennis Avery - Video
Poway Bernardo Mortuary Gallery
Ray Stanton Avery (1907 - 1997)
Dorothy Louise Durfee Avery (1911 - 1964)
Mount Hope Cemetery
San Diego County
Created by: Pat McArron
Record added: Jul 24, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 94143419
Gone but never forgotten. You have left us with a lasting legacy that will be long appreciated. Thank you Dennis for all that you did to make this world a better place.|
Added: May. 28, 2016
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