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Richard ‘Dick’ Pickup Dies at Age 90

Richard “Dick” Pickup, age 90, energetically strolled across the patio of his family-owned Newport Beach Country Club to warmly greet me, then guided us to his usual lunch table, where he sat with a clear view of a TV showing CNBC on April 24.

“I like to watch the close of the market,” he said in his soft voice, with a gentle smile on his face.

As soon as we had ordered our Arnold Palmers, I asked for his recommendations on the menu.

“Try a little cup of the chicken tortilla soup,” he said, ordering a small Asian chicken salad.

We were lunching to talk about his upcoming guest op-ed column for the Business Journal, a feature called the Leader Board, which I edit. Dick’s piece was scheduled for the May 27 issue highlighting Orange County’s 50 most noteworthy donors in the nonprofit world.

A list Dick easily made, having given $50 million to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian last November, to create the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health, on top of his earlier $15 million gift to create Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

Dick built his wealth from early bets on companies such as International Game Technology PLC (NYSE: IGT), a stock he was still holding after 40 years. His favorite sport, he was telling me, was golf, obviously relishing his record of more than 100 rounds or so with legendary investor, Bill Gross, nicknamed the “Bond King.”

So, our lunch went on, until there was a sudden silence. Dick was still smiling, so I waited, figuring he was gathering his thoughts for another fond reminiscence. But then, he leaned to his right side. I reached out, grasping his hand to comfort him, but I knew he needed more.

I called the waiters.

Someone called an ambulance.

I kept his hand in mine, tightly.

His mouth wasn’t moving, but his deep blue eyes were darting around anxiously.
I tried to comfort him.

“We’ll continue our conversation on another day,” I said.

Fireman paramedics arrived at the table within five minutes to­ carry him away on a stretcher to head for Hoag Hospital.

Shaken, I collected myself and returned to our newsroom. I had work, but my mind was on Dick.

Eventually, I received word from a family member that Dick had suffered a stroke.

The next day, April 25, Dick, surrounded by his family, died at 2 a.m.

The Business Journal still had its entire op-ed page waiting for Dick. It belonged to him on May 27, we felt, and we wanted it to stay that way.

His family agreed to help us use it to remember his life.

In the meantime, what follows is their obituary.

A Good Friend

“Dick was a good friend,” Bill Gross told the Business Journal, following Richard “Dick” Pickup’s death.

“He never failed to ask about markets that he didn’t know—I hope I didn’t lead him astray on bonds!!!” said Gross, often called the “Bond King.”

“Dick’s brilliance was best exemplified by his guts to invest in Newport Beach Country Club and Balboa Bay Club around the ripe old age of 80. Not easily done in my opinion. He had a brilliant ability to sense value and to rework old-fashioned properties into modern ones that benefited his family financially and society as a whole.”

Richard ‘Dick’ Pickup
January 11, 1934 – April 25, 2024

Richard “Dick” Pickup, a generous philanthropist, studied investor and patriarch of the family stewarding such landmarks as the Newport Beach Country Club and Balboa Bay Resort & Club, died unexpectedly on April 25, 2024.

Widely known for his tireless work ethic and keen investment prowess, Dick had spent the morning of April 24 at his Newport Beach office, engaged in some of his favorite endeavors—finalizing the terms of a new charitable gift, trading stocks and reviewing a potential new deal—before visiting Newport Beach Country Club, which he and his family so lovingly transformed, and then suffering a stroke that led to his death.

Born and raised in Whittier, Dick moved to Newport Beach in the 1960s. There, he raised his family, became a successful stockbroker and private investor in small and midcap public companies, and spent as much time swinging a golf club as his busy schedule permitted.

Dick’s investment achievements allowed him to engage in transformational philanthropy for the betterment of Orange County, Coachella Valley and beyond. Most notably, Dick recently made a $50 million gift to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian to create the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health, after a previous $15 million gift that created the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

These significant gifts have laid the groundwork for revolutionary brain healthcare and treatment in Orange County. Dick’s philanthropic initiatives have instilled in his children and grandchildren the same charitable zeal, leaving a legacy of giving and helping others for generations to come.

At the dedication of the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag in 2019, Dick wisely stated: “For years I heard my pastor, Dr. Huffman, say, ‘Don’t just give until it hurts; instead, give until it feels good.’ It has taken me some time to really get with this program.

But now in the last two decades, I have learned the reality of what it means to be blessed and to be a blessing to others. Let me assure you that this feels good to me. What we are now doing for others is the highest form of investment I have ever made and some of the best money I have ever spent.

And I know that this will continue to bear rich dividends for others long after I am no longer here.”

Dick also served as the visionary mentor in business to his son, Todd, and son-in-law, Kevin Martin, who co-founded Eagle Four Partners, a Newport Beach-based private equity group specializing in strategic hospitality, golf, lifestyle residential and sports entertainment investments, with such other notable local properties as Pendry Newport Beach, Vea Newport Beach and the Ritz-Carlton Residences Newport Beach currently in development.
Dick will be greatly missed by those who mourn his passing from this life to eternity,

including his wife, Donna; his children, Devon (Kevin) and Todd (Natalie); their mother, Carole; and his grandchildren, Makena Martin, Maddie Martin, Ryan Martin, Max Pickup and Neil Pickup; as well as the entire Eagle Four team, his business partners and many friends.

A memorial service was held on May 1. In loving celebration of the life of Dick, the family has established a memorial tribute fund in support of Hoag’s Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health. Richard was a visionary philanthropist whose acts of generosity have left a transformational legacy at Hoag and throughout the Orange County community.

To make an online donation, please visit www.hoaghospitalfoundation.org/richard-pickup-tribute.html. Gifts may also be mailed to the Hoag Hospital Foundation at 330 Placentia Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663. Please include a memo indicating “Richard H. Pickup” so gifts can be directed to the fund in support of the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health.

We are forever grateful.

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