Alice Tyler; USC, Pepperdine Benefactor, Environmentalist


Alice Christine Tyler, a major benefactor of USC and Pepperdine University and co-founder of the John and Alice Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, has died. She was 80.

Mrs. Tyler, who lived in Bel-Air, died Tuesday at UCLA Medical Center.

A lifelong environmentalist, Mrs. Tyler founded the $150,000 annual prize in 1973 to honor scientists whose work identifies them as "guardians of the future." The co-founder was her late husband, John Cummings Tyler, who founded Farmers Insurance Group in 1928. He died in 1973 at age 84.

First administered by Pepperdine, the prize has been handled by USC for the last 12 years. It is awarded annually by a selection committee made up of scientists from USC, Baylor, Harvard and Purdue universities, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

The Tyler name is on two of the couple's principal gifts--the John and Alice Tyler Center at Pepperdine and the Tyler Building at USC, which houses the Delinquency Control Institute they also supported. Mrs. Tyler also gave generously to the UCLA Medical Center, USC School of Medicine, USC School of Fine Arts, Greater Los Angeles Zoo, Carr Foundation, Project Hope, and Childhelp USA, which helps abused children.

Mrs. Tyler was an active sponsor of the Village of Childhelp West in Beaumont, Calif., and was the principal contributor for the Alice C. Tyler Village of Childhelp East at Culpepper, Va., which was dedicated by former First Lady Barbara Bush on Oct. 1, 1991.

She shared a Woman of the World award from Childhelp USA with former First Lady Betty Ford.

"Not being able to have a child, I always felt I was missing something," Mrs. Tyler told the Los Angeles Times in 1972. "So I felt the next best thing was to be able to help someone else's child."

Trained in business school, Mrs. Tyler often said that if she could relive her life she would attend a university to study interior design, her avocation. She decorated the Tyler homes in Bel-Air, Palm Springs and La Jolla and, in her words, "put (her) two bits here and there" in decorating the Tyler Center at Pepperdine. She called the center "the happy place."

Pepperdine gave her its honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1972.

Mrs. Tyler was a co-founder of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, a founding member of the Los Angeles Music Center Building Fund, and a continuing supporter of the center's Blue Ribbon group.

In discussing her philanthropy with The Times, Mrs. Tyler once quoted Horace Mann as voicing her own belief: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

Mrs. Tyler is survived by a sister, Pauline Brown, and two nephews, all of Portland, Ore.

Services and interment are scheduled for Monday at Wee Kirk of the Heather, Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale.

The family has suggested that memorial donations be made to the John and Alice Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, Office of the Provost, Admissions 203, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-4019.

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