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San Diego Philanthropist Conrad Prebys Dies

SDSU Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Aug. 7, 2014.
Milan Kovacevic
SDSU Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Aug. 7, 2014.

San Diego Philanthropist Conrad Prebys Dies
San Diego Philanthropist Conrad Prebys Dies GUEST: Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO, Scripps Health John Rebelo, friend of Conrad Prebys

for medical research music recital Hall, to the master series of KPBS, philanthropist, Conrad Prebys make contribution to a broad range of institutions in San Diego. Conrad Prebys died of cancer last Sunday at the age of 82. Conrad Prebys with -- was -- with the billionaire his latest fortune and construction and and the real estate and determined to share his wealthwith the San Diego community in a myriad of ways. His Conrad Prebys to give away the largest single giftit has, $20 million . I've feel good about it, when -- winds hit one out of the parkyou know you know what that sent this is it, grateful to be part of this universities. Joining me now with Chris --President and CEO of sports helps which -- health which we see the road donation of Conrad Prebys. Let's, will come -- it's a mobile computer programs, what will the Conrad Prebys. Support in the support of sports -- groups help. Conrad was an amazing man, I would consider him one of my heroes, from degrees and much like a -- started with a quarter of a million dollars gift, and, give more -- contacted more than that tends mother Mary, -- remarried come upon the mercy, one of the thing I do every day before I go home ask myself that -- caps on felt that quietly, -- proud of what we did today and I will be adding Conrad from that was going on from now. Conrad made them to major. Others to see him tell -- INTELSAT suffers one when he actually got to do one of the charm -- trauma surgeon and asked them G if I get heard where would -- hurtwhere would I go? He happens to -- happened to be in the -- for the Scripps' mercy hospital so they thought they needed a new world emergency room and trauma center and got to know -- and give us $45 million that the cardiovascular Institute. An amazing man. A sad day, I choose to celebrate for him. Personal friends and community friends so generous to some of the organization, as a philanthropist she was involved in -- she was involved in finding out what was needed and how the physical he could help. he with the -- was the man,while he was very generous and help everybody from San Diego State, KPBS my university, the Burnham Institute on and on and on, he did his research and he flat out told me, you know I will give the things that excite me. And you could tell if -- us he got excitedsometimes it was Ryan from the look that a microscope looking at all data --they cited by that will replace heart transplant and he got excited about that and he was excited he was going to support -- was going to support it. If you did not get excited it is. whatever from his friend and fellow philanthropist John rather low and -- Brown below and he has what you're saying how he enjoyed supporting big thing, in this case he was -- it was down community. if it him in the heart -- them in the heart of the you look around executive support they would think that he will -- the school he -- he will be enjoyed in it has to do with our tour and if it had to be like places like the heat injury KPBS, he enjoyed it down to not be, I had to go to the live entertainment and Debbie and characters from Downton a there and he sat with us. he just enjoyed this world. He chokes when -- chose what he wanted to do and mutual -- he chose as and targeted his heart, you mentioned Chris Van Holder that his largest donation ever was made last year to the Burnham medical research is a -- to Dallas $100 million, what do you think a sense of generosity came from ? he grew up very modestly and he was always a humble man and to some degree a -- and to some degree a shy man and he came out as what we know $500 in his pocket and got involved in the recruiting affordable housing. He told me once, you know when you can get somebody alert -- give somebody a look over their heads you know in a job, you know they can make it and survive -- survive in this life and I think even in business he tried to be helpful and provide to the community and he got very wealthy doing that stated at a point he added that he had been so lucky and selfie of -- self you get it back give it back in to them -- -- the zoo and the education arts science and medicine. He spent that money around multiple organizations to improve the community. I think he was onewith a sense of generosity maybe when you start with nothing in the end up with something like this a bit of an obligation of getting back in he did it with spirit and chilly and said there's never been so excited -- he has never been so excited giving his money away. now your relationship with Conrad private started off professionally , but you became a personalfriend. how would you describe. very intelligent, call, humble, China -- China, shrewd businessman, he was working all the way up so passed away. There was a time when the -- he ran into my wife and I went -- ran into Debian Conrad at the woodfired pizza in liberty patient and he found out that script higher discount card for employees and friends and your -- in France and there's a man that could have gone in any restaurant and hotel in the world he said I wonder could -- he saidI wonder could I bepart of the Feek family can I get one of those. he got excited I got him at the -- a discount check card. That was Conrad, he was the everyday person, was not wealthy man a human being that can relate to anybody. Special personality. I have no precedents, people who will become president and I would when Conrad Prebys right up among the top people human beings I've ever met him -- in my life about the had been speaking with Crispin Porter resident in CEO of Scripps health,

San Diego Philanthropist Conrad Prebys Dies
San Diego philanthropist Conrad Prebys, whose donations have supported major projects in San Diego, has died of cancer.

San Diego philanthropist Conrad Prebys, who gave millions of dollars to a variety of interests in the community — from the arts to science research and educational institutions — has died. He was 82.

Prebys died Sunday of cancer at Scripps Mercy Hospital, with his family by his side, according to a news release from Scripps Health.


“Born with a giving spirit, Conrad’s deep generosity has helped strengthen and enrich the community in many important ways, including health care, medical research, music, theater, youth services, and wildlife preservation,” a statement from his family said.

Prebys was a supporter of KPBS and the PBS Masterpiece Trust. The Masterpiece Trust is a fundraising initiative and partnership of PBS stations that supports the Masterpiece television series.

“KPBS is a favorite place for me and Debbie,” Prebys said in 2015. Debbie Turner is his life partner.

They were both inducted into the KPBS Hall of Fame in 2012.

Debbie Turner and Conrad Prebys are pictured at the KPBS Celebrates Gala, May 4, 2013.
Spark Photography
Debbie Turner and Conrad Prebys are pictured at the KPBS Celebrates Gala, May 4, 2013.

A billionaire, Prebys gave capital and operating gifts to Scripps Health; the Boys and Girls Clubs; the San Diego Zoo; the Old Globe Theatre; the UC San Diego Music Centre; the La Jolla Music Society; Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla and Orlando, Florida; the Salk Institute; Indiana University; San Diego State University; and the San Diego Museum of Art.


His name adorns many buildings throughout San Diego, including the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at SDSU. He gave $20 million to the university for student scholarships.

His largest donation was made last year, when he gave $100 million to the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The money was to help fast-track drug discovery and translate lab findings into real-world therapies.

Raised in a working-class neighborhood of South Bend, Indiana, Prebys developed a heart condition at the age of 8 that forced him to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, so he learned to play piano and developed an appreciation of the arts.

He later graduated from Indiana University and made a fortune in real estate and construction.

"The entire Scripps Health family is deeply saddened by the loss of Conrad Prebys," a statement from the healthcare provider said. "It's impossible to overstate the important role that he played in supporting our organization and the entire San Diego region."

Prebys was "a dear friend and a steadfast supporter" of UC San Diego for many years, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said.

"Conrad touched so many lives through his generosity and kindness, and has left a lasting impact on our campus, our community and our world," Khosla said.

"We will miss him immensely and cherish his legacy," the chancellor said. "From his support that created the Conrad Prebys Music Center at UC San Diego to his philanthropic gifts that benefited health sciences and many other fields and organizations, he improved the quality of life of our campus and community members and forever changed the landscape of San Diego."

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said Prebys "touched and ennobled" everyone he met, adding his "contagious optimism and selfless generosity have forever changed our campus and the entire San Diego region."

"His name and his legacy will live on at San Diego State University in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, the thousands of students who will receive Conrad Prebys' scholarships, the Conrad Prebys Center for Viromics Research and the Conrad Prebys Chair for Bio-medical Research," Hirshman said. "The entire San Diego State University community mourns the loss of a treasured friend and supporter."

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria tweeted that he was deeply saddened by Prebys' death, calling him "a true gentleman" and "generous benefactor."

"Many of our civic treasures are better because of him," Gloria said.

He is survived by Turner. Services were not immediately announced.