Obituary: Richard Ray (Dick) Ellsworth

Longtime Claremont Graduate University professor, author, scholar

Richard Ray (Dick) Ellsworth died peacefully on August 15 in Cambria, California after gracefully enduring the challenges of Parkinson’s disease. He died at home with his beloved wife Maribeth at his side soon after loving farewell visits from his family.

Dick was born in 1941 in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Melvin and Aladine Ellsworth. He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and San Marino, California. While attending San Marino High School and Occidental College he played football on both varsity teams and maintained long-term friendships with many of the players.

After graduating from Occidental, he earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business which led him to his career at Kaiser Corporation in Oakland, California. He rose rapidly to become vice president and general manager of the commercial development division.

“Throughout his lifetime, Dick developed the strength, integrity and courage to face numerous challenges with grace, humility and perseverance,” his family shared. “As a young single dad with a demanding job, he managed to provide his children with loving care while simultaneously undergoing experimental treatments for cancer. He came through those challenges with the sense of faith, compassion and deeply held values that were admired throughout his life by his family, friends, colleagues, and students.”

In l974 he married Ginger Veirs. The blended family then moved to the East Coast to pursue his long-dreamed career of teaching. He enrolled in the DBA program at Harvard Business School in 1976. After earning his doctorate, he remained as an HBS faculty member until 1985, when he returned to the West Coast to take up an appointment at the Peter Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, where he taught for the next 23 years.

Throughout his academic career, he was regularly recognized as an exemplary professor with an uncommon commitment to scholarship, teaching, and academic integrity. A highly accomplished scholar, his research focused on effective executive leadership, the integration of financial policy and strategy, and corporate competitiveness. His books “Leading with Purpose” and “Leadership and the Quest for Integrity” are widely admired contributions to the field.

Upon retirement in 2008, he and his wife Maribeth moved to Cambria, California to enjoy the abundant gifts of nature on the central coast. Although he traveled throughout the world, his favorite place was in the Sierras hiking, fly fishing, contemplating, writing, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His great joy was sharing the beauty and wonder of nature with all his grandchildren. His June Lake cabin was home not only to his woodworking and craftsmanship, but also the place of his fondest memories of family times together.

His longstanding friendships enhanced the depth and quality of his life, and he was quick to acknowledge the measure of their worth. “Recounting stories, conversations and past shared experiences were always sure ways to light up Dick’s face and bring forth that signature “twinkle” in his eyes,” his family said.

He is survived by his wife, Maribeth; children Jody Ginsburg (Greg Ginsburg), Deborah Calzini, and Robert Ellsworth (Kristin Ellsworth); Maribeth’s daughters Kristine Schoemann (Christopher Schoemann), and Jennifer Subia (Terry Subia); twelve grandchildren; and sister Marcia Ellsworth.

He was predeceased by his parents and former spouses Priscilla Terrell Brody and Ginger Veirs Ellsworth.

“Throughout his life, Dick profoundly touched and influenced many other lives,” his family recalled. “He listened, learned and loved with an open heart, a generous spirit, and a brilliant, thoughtful mind. He will be missed beyond measure.”

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, September 17 at Claremont Graduate University’s Jenkins Courtyard, 1021 N. Dartmouth Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. A reception will follow.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Yosemite Conservancy at https://yosemite.org/donate; or The Michael J. Fox Foundation at https://www.michaeljfox.org/donate.

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