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Robert Beyster, Founder Of Defense Giant SAIC, Dies

John Robert Beyster is shown in this undated photo.
Courtesy of the Beyster family
John Robert Beyster is shown in this undated photo.

Beyster founded the company in La Jolla in 1969

John Robert Beyster, who founded defense giant Science Applications International Corp. in La Jolla, died Monday. He was 90.

Beyster died of natural causes at his home in La Jolla, according to an obituary his family posted on his blog. He was with his wife of 59 years, Betty, and their family, and he was "wearing his favorite sailing clothes, including an America's Cup jacket and his University of Michigan cap," the obituary said.

On the blog, Beyster's daughter, Mary Ann, wrote this about her father's death:

"Although this is a very sad time for our family, let’s celebrate the life of this remarkable man. He touched so many lives and gave to others selflessly. We all want to make a mark on the world, and my father — Dr. J. Robert Beyster — really did."

Beyster founded SAIC in 1969, and it grew to be the largest employee-owned research and engineering firm in the U.S. SAIC ranked in 2003 as the third-largest federal contractor, with nearly $2 billion in contracts awarded, according to U-T San Diego.

When Beyster retired as the company's chairman in 2004, SAIC had annual revenues of $6.7 billion and more than 43,000 employees. He left the company when the board of directors decided to take SAIC public, which meant it would no longer be employee owned.

In 2009, the board moved the company headquarters from San Diego to McLean, Virginia, so it could be closer to the federal government.

According to Beyster's family-provided obituary, this was his business philosophy: "Those who contribute to the company should own it, and ownership should be commensurate with a person's contribution and performance."

Beyster and his family are financial supporters of KPBS. For 2014, KPBS named the Beyster family as Hall of Fame Visionaries, and they will be honored at a celebration in March.


Besides his wife and daughter, Mary Ann, both of La Jolla, Beyster is survived by sons Jim of San Diego and Mark of Las Vegas; a sister, Virginia; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A private family memorial will be held at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego. A public service will be announced in the new year, the family said.

The family suggests donations to the Salvation Army Door of Hope in San Diego, Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation for scholarships or the Foundation for Enterprise Development to support employee ownership.