Donald Campbell Cameron, 61, former director of planning and urban design for the Irvine Co. who designed major portions of Orange County, has died at the age of 61.
Cameron died Sunday at his home in Laguna Niguel, said a nephew, Tom Reed of Pasadena. The family declined to state the cause of death.
From 1959 to 1961, as a young project director at William Pereira Associates, Cameron prepared the original campus plan for UC Irvine.
At Pereira, he also worked on the master plan for Irvine Ranch, including the current urban framework for central Orange County.
He worked with a young Ray Watson, who later became the Irvine Co. president, in the old family farmhouse on Myford Road and then at the red Buffalo Ranch on Ford Road.
Later, as the Irvine Co.'s chief planner, Cameron helped implement and expand that master plan.
Watson called Cameron “the man behind the vision” of the company. “A lot of people get a lot of recognition, including myself, for the work the company did, but none of this would have happened except for people like Don Cameron,” said Watson, who is currently the Irvine Co.'s vice chairman. “He did the research, did the writing, did the pushing to prepare the reports. He took the vision and turned it into reality.”
The American Planning Assn. said in granting Cameron its Distinguished Leadership Award earlier this year: “Mr. Cameron has made his mark on the landscape of Orange County.”
Alberto F. Trevino of Laguna Beach, the Irvine Co.'s chief planner from 1960 to 1966, credited Cameron’s breadth of knowledge and his ability to communicate for his success. “What he did best was coordinate complex planning with several agencies,” Trevino said. “He understood what it took to make an outstanding project because he was interested in the arts, architecture and writing.”
Barbara Gray of Los Angeles, former vice president and director of research for William Pereira Associates, worked with Cameron on the Irvine Ranch and UC Irvine projects. “He was a man of extraordinary good taste and great interest in places and history,” said Gray, 85. “He studied everything with clarity.”
A graduate of Stanford University, Cameron was a visiting lecturer for 10 years at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He later operated a private consulting firm from his home.
Cameron wrote many scholarly reports, articles and project critiques on urban planning. A lover of words, he also wrote for fun--in 1983 and 1984 winning “dishonorable mentions” in the Bulwer-Lytton Contest, an annual competition for the worst opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel.
He is survived by his mother, Kathleen Campbell Richards, and a sister, Patricia Cameron Reed, both of San Juan Capistrano, four nephews and four grandnieces.
Memorial services are scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Laguna Beach.
The family has requested that memorial donations be made to the AIDS Services Foundation, 7982 Sky Park Circle, Suite J, Irvine, Calif. 92714, or to the Special Studio Fund at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Mass.
Times staff writer Len Hall contributed to this report.