Jon Lovelace, whose commitment, generosity and vision helped nurture California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) from a fledgling arts institution to international prominence in visual and performing arts education died on November 16 in Santa Barbara, California. He was 84.
As a founding member of the CalArts Board of Trustees, Mr. Lovelace began his service as a wise advisor and benefactor to the Institute in 1969. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1983 to 1988 and continued his involvement as trustee emeritus after his retirement from the board in 1999.
"With Jon's passing, a light goes out in the universe,” said CalArts President Steven D. Lavine. “He was among the finest human beings my wife Janet and I have ever known: curious about the world, brilliant but with no need to show off his keen intellect; kind, unfailingly generous and unfalteringly loyal, sweet in lovely ways, deeply principled, wise and modest...the list might go on and on and still not do him justice. Jon made one feel better about the human species. CalArts was fortunate to have him as a trustee and leader for so much of its history; Janet and I were fortunate to count him a dear friend."
Mr. Lovelace is survived by his wife, Lillian; his daughter, Carey; three sons, Jeffrey, Jim and Rob; and six grandchildren. At the time of his death, he was Chairman Emeritus of Capital Research and Management Company and of the American Mutual Fund which he had led to become one of the country's largest money management firms.
His daughter, Carey, a CalArts alumna, once referred to her father as a "Buddhist businessman" who disdained hierarchy and personal aggrandizement. “He exemplified what we aspire to as a community and was a model for the type of human being we would like our students to become,” noted a member of CalArts’ staff.
From CalArts’ earliest years, Mr. Lovelace, with the participation of his wife Lillian, thoughtfully directed his philanthropy to areas of greatest need across the Institute, many of which were not readily apparent to the public yet vitally important to CalArts’ ongoing operations. “Jon understood that the strength of the Institute’s faculty ultimately determines its greatness,” noted President Lavine, “and he carefully considered meaningful ways to ensure that our faculty thrive both as distinguished artists and teachers.”
To support faculty, Mr. Lovelace and his wife established five endowed faculty chairs. The funding of these positions has enabled the Institute to retain key educators whose artistry, professional experience and commitment to students are vital to the education CalArts delivers to students.
The Lovelaces also established a charitable lead trust to boost scholarships and fund faculty leaves. At this point, the trust has supported over 70 creative leaves for faculty members. In addition, they endowed the President’s New Ventures Fund, which supports start-up activities, special projects and new programs.
Jon Lovelace’s extraordinary and deeply appreciated support greatly enhanced every aspect of the Institute and will continue benefiting CalArts and the arts as a whole for many years to come.
The Los Angeles Times notes that in his professional life, “Lovelace is credited with some of the key innovations that helped set the stage for American Funds' explosive growth from the 1980s through the mid-2000s, as it became synonymous with successful buy-and-hold stock investing.”