Hoyt S. Pardee, who with his two brothers transformed a family construction company into a leading Southern California home builder, died of pancreatic cancer Monday at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. He was 91.
The brothers and their company, Pardee Construction, had built more than 30,000 homes by 1985, when they were among the first builders inducted into a statewide hall of fame sponsored by the California Building Industry Assn.
Formed in 1946 in Los Angeles, the company became one of the more prolific home builders in the region after World War II, constructing housing tracts around Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas.
The company, now known as Pardee Homes, remains a prominent home builder.
Hoyt Swift Pardee was born May 15, 1918, in Hollywood and earned a bachelor's degree in business and accounting at UCLA in 1941.
When UCLA built a new baseball stadium in 1981, Pardee paid for it and asked that it be named in honor of Jackie Robinson, the sports great who was his UCLA classmate.
The beginnings of Pardee Construction can be traced to 1921, when entertainer Will Rogers hired Hoyt's father, George Pardee, who ran a small home construction business.
After Hoyt returned from serving in the Navy during World War II, he and his older brother, George Jr., formed Pardee Construction with their father.
Because the brothers did not want to outvote their father, they decided that all business decisions had to be unanimous.
They continued to follow that policy after their younger brother, J. Douglas, joined the venture in 1948 and their father died in 1952.
The company's first subdivision was built in the 1950s in Pacific Palisades, where Pardee raised three sons with his wife, Carol, whom he married in 1942. She died in 1989.
In 1969, Pardee Construction was acquired by Weyerhaeuser Co., a forest products company. Hoyt stayed with the business until 1986.
With his sons, he then founded Pardee Tree Nursery, a wholesale enterprise on 300 acres in Oceanside.
He remained active in the business until about two months ago.
An Eagle Scout, Pardee was a major supporter of the Boy Scouts of America and many other organizations. A yacht he owned and often sailed with his brothers was donated to a Scouting program.
"He was the most fabulous man you would ever want to know," said Kris Graves, a friend and associate. "He was from the old days, when your word was gold."
In addition to his second wife, Viorica, whom he married in 1992, Hoyt is survived by his sons, David, Douglas and Wesley; his brother J. Douglas; and four grandchildren. His brother George Jr. died in 2004.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Matthew's Parish Church, 1031 Bienveneda Ave., Pacific Palisades.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests donating to the Salk Institute for Pancreatic Cancer Research, P.O. Box 85800, San Diego, CA 92186.