Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this


By Miriam Raftery, East County News Service

July 25, 2016 (San Diego) — Conrad Prebys, a generous philanthropist who supported numerous San Diego nonprofit organizations, health and education centers, died Sunday, July 24th of cancer at Scripps Mercy Hospital with his family at his side.

“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 issued by his family reads.

A heart condition as a child in Indiana prevented Prebys from engaging in strenuous physical activities, turning instead to music and the arts.  After making his fortune in real estate and construction, he became one of San Diego’s major philanthropists.

The new Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at San Diego State University is named for Prebys, as is the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla and the Conrad Prebys Music Center at the University of California, San Diego. He supported cardiovascular research at Scripps.

SDSU president Elliot Hirshman called Prebys ”a great man and a great spirit. He touched and ennobled everyone he met. 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,” he added.  The entire San Diego State University community mourns the loss of a treasured friend and supporter."

UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla called Prebys a “dear friend and a steadfast supporter” of the campus, adding, “Conrad touched so many lives through his generosity and kindness, and has left a lasting impact on our campus, our community, and our world.”

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, on Twitter, remembered Prebys as a “true gentleman and generous benefactor. Many of our civic treasures are better because of him.”

He is survived by his life partner, Debbie Turner.  Memorial services have not yet been announced and the family has asked for privacy during their time of loss.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.