Richard C. Dunn dies at 84; leader of L.A. commercial real estate dynasty

Richard C. "Dick" Dunn, leader of a Los Angeles commercial real estate dynasty, has died. He was 84.

Dunn, who was widely viewed as the dean of the region's commercial property brokers in his role at the Charles Dunn Co., died April 15 from an inoperable brain hemorrhage at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, according to his family.

He took part in the booming real estate market in Southern California after World War II and continued to work until his death. Dunn helped assemble, sell or lease some of region's best-known commercial properties.

Among them were NBC's purchase of 50 acres in Burbank in the early 1950s, and Signal Oil & Gas' acquisition of three parcels of land at Wilshire Boulevard and the Harbor Freeway in the mid-1960s.

"Dick knew the real estate business cold," said competitor John Cushman, chairman of real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. "He was a rock solid professional and a great friend to so many in the community."

Dunn and the company founded by his father, Charles, also played a major role in the expansion plans of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, beginning in the late 1940s when then-Archbishop James Francis McIntyre assigned them the task of buying property for new parishes in outlying areas and acquiring the land for St. Basil Catholic Church on Wilshire Boulevard.

In 2009, Dunn orchestrated the $31-million sale and leaseback of the archdiocese headquarters, a 13-story office building on Wilshire.

Born in Los Angeles on May 17, 1926, Dunn graduated from Loyola High School in 1944. He served in the Navy during World War II and attended Loyola University. Upon graduation in 1950, he joined the family business.

"It was just Dad, myself and two other salesmen, and we did every kind of brokerage, from rooming houses in the Westlake district, to lots on Wilshire Boulevard, to acreage in the San Fernando Valley," Dunn once recalled. "Dad was a general broker, but what he really loved was land deals, and because the postwar housing boom was just getting started, we were in the right place at the right time."

Dunn and his brother, Joseph, sold the Charles Dunn Co. to longtime associate Walter J. Conn in 1995.

Dunn is survived by his wife of 60 years, Eleanor "Patty" Dunn; daughters Theresa M. Dunn, Ellen McPherson and Maryanne Herrill; sons Peter, Matthew and Chuck; and nine grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother Joseph, and sister Dorothy Dunn.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Andrew Church, 140 Chestnut St., Pasadena.

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