In Memoriam: Harold and Ester Dornsife
Two of USC’s most enthusias-tic and generous benefactors – Harold Dorn-sife ’38, MS ’42, former chairman of the board of Herrick-Pacific Corp., and his wife Ester Dornsife ’41 – have died, Hal in March 1999 and Ester this past January 30.
Dedicated to the training of young scientists, the Dornsifes supported programs in chemical engineering, chemistry and neuroscience. Their contributions to the Seeley G. Mudd Building helped to create a facility that significantly enhanced science education at the university. The Harold W. Dornsife Chair in Neurosciences reflects his personal commitment to the frontiers of science and the priorities of USC. The couple were also leadership donors to the HEDCO Neuroscience Building, and the basketball meeting room and offices in Heritage Hall bear Ester’s and Hal’s names.
A high school star, Hal won a basketball scholarship to USC in 1934. He met Ester after a USC-Cal football game in Berkeley; USC had lost badly and both had fibbed about their USC allegiance, only to en-counter each other on campus the following Monday. Ester, the better student of the two, was an inspiration to Hal, who, against the advice of his basketball coach, Sam Berry, majored in chemical engineering. His coaches thought the major would be too time-consuming for an athlete.
With Ester’s support, Hal proved them wrong, earning two degrees and even surprising then-president Rufus B. Von Klein-Smid who, learning that Hal had earned a 3.6 GPA, said, “Dornsife, you couldn’t possibly have made that GPA with all of the work you did around the campus and all the time required for your basketball.”
The Dornsifes are survived by their two children, David and Dody, and six grandchildren.


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In Memoriam: Harold and Ester Dornsife

Dornsife photo courtesy of Dornsife family

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