In tribute: Donald Leo Lucas, March 18, 1930 – Dec. 27, 2019
He was a pioneering venture capitalist, a lauded corporate director and widely-known philanthropist. And to those of us at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Don Lucas was a friend and one of our greatest champions.
Don was chairman of the SIEPR Advisory Board from 2001 to 2007. For those years and beyond, he helped grow the ranks of SIEPR associates by sharing the institute’s research and events with friends and colleagues. He valued the type of economic policy research that SIEPR does and also loved to support young students and scholars as they launched their careers.
Don graduated from Stanford in 1951 and received his MBA from the university’s Graduate School of Business in 1953. By the late 1950s, he was already one of the earliest venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. He lined up much of the funding for National Semiconductor in 1957. Later, he went on to be instrumental in the growth of Oracle, Cadence Design Systems, Dexcom, Macromedia, and at least 15 other successful companies. He bet on people and his track record was awfully good. He was a corporate director at many companies over the years, recognized by The Financial Times in 2012 as one of the outstanding corporate directors in America.
Don was an incredibly generous philanthropist. SIEPR and Stanford’s economics department were among his major beneficiaries. The economics department’s Lucas Conference Center in the Landau Economics Building is named in his honor. One of the professors in the department, Kyle Bagwell, is the Donald L. Lucas endowed professor. SIEPR has the Donald L. Lucas Lounge and a host of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that owe their financial support to Don and the Lucas Brothers Foundation.
During my term as SIEPR’s director, I had the pleasure of getting to know Don very well. He was instrumental to our success, and put us on a path for tremendous growth. And all of Stanford has benefitted from his generosity.
The Richard M. Lucas Imaging Center in the Medical School is a cutting-edge facility thanks in large part to the support of Don and the foundation. The School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford Law School and the GSB have all been major beneficiaries. So have the athletics department and the Hoover Institution. Don got great pleasure at sharing his success with Stanford, Santa Clara University and many other organizations.
Don was pre-deceased by the love of his life, his wife for 47 years, Lygia. He left behind his three children, Alexandra Lucas Ertola, Nancy Lucas Thibodeau, and Donald Alexander Lucas. Tragically, Don Alexander passed away less than five weeks after his father’s death on Dec. 27, 2019.
Don left a lasting legacy at SIEPR and Stanford. For those who knew him, he was truly larger than life.
John B. Shoven is the former Trione Director of SIEPR and the Charles R. Schwab Professor of Economics, emeritus.