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A Foundation for the Future

 


Walter Gerken, then the chairman and CEO of Pacific Mutual, was responsible for the creation of the Pacific Mutual Foundation in 1984. Pacific Life Archives

  • December 1984: Pacific Mutual established the Pacific Mutual Foundation with a $3 million endowment
  • The Foundation was created by Chairman and CEO Walter Gerken and SVP of Public Affairs Bob Haskell

Pacific Mutual CEO Tom Sutton is presented with a plaque recognizing the Foundation for its support of the United Way in 1990. Pacific Life Archives
Pacific Mutual CEO Tom Sutton is presented with a plaque recognizing the Foundation for its support of the United Way in 1990.
Pacific Life Archives


Community involvement has long been a part of Pacific Life’s DNA. The company reinforced its commitment to charitable giving in December 1984 with an initial $3 million endowment of the Pacific Mutual Foundation.

The Foundation was created by Chairman and CEO Walter Gerken and SVP of Public Affairs Bob Haskell to formalize the donations that Pacific Mutual was already giving to the community. “It made it more professional than it had ever been before,” Haskell said.

From there, the Foundation took off. Pacific Mutual became the first corporate sponsor of the AIDS Services Foundation, donating $2,500 to the cause in 1985 and sponsoring Orange County’s first AIDS Walk.

During its inaugural year, the Foundation also made education donations a priority, with more than $144,000 in grants to institutions including the University of California, Irvine and UCLA. This tradition continues through programs like the 3T’s of education, which provides grants to K-12 schools attended by children or grandchildren of Pacific Life employees. Since the program started in 1998, the Foundation has given more than $7.2 million to qualifying schools.

Today, the Foundation gives over $7 million annually to charities in Pacific Life’s communities, which have grown to include Lynchburg, Virginia, and Omaha, Nebraska. Tennyson Oyler, president of the Foundation, said that number will never decline, even during economic downturns. “We actually increased our giving a little bit during those years, because we firmly felt that that’s when the nonprofits needed us the most.”