Ventura County business leader and philanthropist Jack Gilbert has died. He was 91.
In 2010, Gilbert was an inaugural member of the Pacific Coast Business Times’ Business Hall of Fame, an honor which recognized him for his role as a developer in Ventura County and for his part in leading Thousand Oaks’ emergence as a major business center.
Gilbert gave $5 million to California Lutheran University, a gift that provided the cornerstone for the modernization of the Thousand Oaks campus. In 2006, the $18 million Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center, named for Jack and his wife Carol, opened.
Gilbert passed away Aug. 2 at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard after complications with pneumonia. A memorial service will be held Aug. 14 at the Lundring Events Center on the CLU campus.
“Jack was a successful entrepreneur who took pride in this University and believed in its potential to serve the needs of the region,” CLU President Chris Kimball said in a note to university staff.
“The Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center is testimony to his generosity and his influence on the campus,” he said, adding, “the University’s success over the last decade is due in large part to Jack’s vision and commitment.”
Gilbert was a high school dropout who went on to create his own fortune in Southern California. The founder of Burbank–based Zero Corp., an electronic packaging firm, Gilbert moved to Ventura County in 1973 and went on to make a fortune in Conejo Valley real estate through Thousand Oaks Land Development Corp., or TOLD Corp.
In his years at the helm of TOLD, Gilbert built about 5 million square feet of commercial space, piece by piece. “You get in trouble if you bite off more than you can chew,” Gilbert told the Business Times in 2010.
His son, Rod, today continues in the TOLD Corp. family business and serves on the CLU board.
Jack Gilbert held higher education near and dear to his heart, calling the Gilbert sports center at CLU one of his greatest accomplishments. “That was such an honor to have that building on campus,” he told the Business Times in 2010. “It means a lot to me because learning is one of the things that seems to be able to make a difference in life. Take it from me. I know.”
In lieu of flowers, the Gilbert family asks that memorial gifts be sent to the John B. Gilbert Scholarship for Business Ethics at CLU.
Business Times readers who knew Gilbert or were touched by his contributions to the community are encouraged to post comments below sharing their thoughts.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated at 2 p.m. with the information that Gilbert passed away after experiencing complications from pneumonia.]