A Father's Namesake and Oxy Legacy


As an economics major at Oxy, there were pluses and minuses to being the son of President Arthur G. Coons '20. In a questionnaire completed in 2002, Arthur G. Coons Jr. '52 recalled receiving some of the highest B-pluses—and lowest B-minuses—in the College's history. "Some profs didn't want to appear to be kissing up to Dad," he wrote. "Others couldn't believe the president's son could be so stupid." Coons—who died June 18 in Newport Beach—grew up on the Oxy campus and pledged Phi Gamma Delta fraternity as an undergrad. He received an MBA from Harvard in 1954 and served in the Army from 1954 to 1956, working as a stenographer in the United States and Germany. He went on to a career as a retailer and marketer, joining the Broadway Department Stores chain in 1964 (beginning a 26-year career with the company later known as Carter Hawley Hale) and most memorably serving as president and CEO of the Walden Book Co. from 1976 to 1979. Coons later worked as a consultant and enjoyed tennis, wine, and gardening. He served as president of the Alumni Association Board of Governors in 1972-73, an alumni trustee from 1991 to 1995, and a Fifty Year Club officer from 2003 to 2007. Coons is survived by his second wife, Terri, and three children, including son Douglas Coons '91.
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