Member Profile

1998 Horatio Alger Award Recipient

Donald R. Beall

Chairman Emeritus



Dartbrook Partners (a family partnership)

“Develop mentors in your life and never stop learning.”

Donald Beall was born in 1938 in Beaumont, California. Both of his parents worked for years at Montgomery Ward and J. C. Penney. When Beall was 10, his family moved to California's San Bernardino Mountains, where his father had a gas station and oil distribution business. Beall worked for his father after school and held other jobs, including setting pins at the local bowling alley and peeling and dicing onions for a hot dog stand. "My parents had a strong sense of integrity and ethics," he says. "They taught me the discipline of hard work at an early age."

When Beall was 12, his family made another move to Crescent City, which is a small, northern coastal town near the Oregon border. He worked for his father's oil distribution business, sold newspapers, and worked at lumber mills. The rest of the time, Beall was focused on school and sports. He took college preparatory courses and was accepted to San Jose State University as an engineering student.

During his early college years, Beall spent his summers as a daytime truck driver for his father and a nighttime lumber barge loader. At college, he was an engineering teaching assistant, and he later served as a junior engineer at Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica. Beal went on to earn an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, which he attended on a full scholarship.

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Beall returned to California in 1961 to work for Aeronutronic and Philco-Ford, the aerospace businesses of Ford Motor Company. In 1968, he joined Rockwell International, which had just been formed through the merger of North American Aviation and Rockwell Standard. He spent a year in the corporate office and then moved into general management. At age 39, Beall was named Rockwell's president, a position he held, along with that of CEO, until his retirement in 1998.

Through a series of strategic actions, Rockwell became focused on a diversified group of electronics businesses serving factory automation, communications, avionics, and various communications semiconductor world markets. Those electronics businesses were represented by six public companies whose stock value increased at a compounded annual rate of nearly 16 percent, including reinvested dividends, from 1979 to 2007.

The Beall Family Foundation has made multimillion-dollar endowments to the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California at Irvine (UCI), the Beall Center for Art+Technology at UCI, and the Don Beall Dean of Engineering at San Jose State University.

Beall is a director of several boards and an overseer of Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is an investor, director, and adviser to several private companies and investment partnerships. Looking back over his life and achievements, Beall says it is important to have mentors along the way. "My father, grandfather, several teachers, and employers all shared their wisdom with me," he says. "Listen to those who can teach you and never stop learning."

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