Arts & Entertainment

Orange County arts philanthropist Henry Segerstrom dies at 91

Founding Chairman Henry Segerstrom at the Orange County Perfroming Arts Center's renaming ceremony to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 2011.
Founding Chairman Henry Segerstrom at the Orange County Perfroming Arts Center's renaming ceremony to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 2011.
Ryan Miller/Getty Images

Art philanthropist and shopping center developer Henry Segerstrom died Friday in Orange County. He was 91 years old.

Segerstrom was the founding chairman of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, which was named after him, and was a managing partner of the South Coast Plaza.

South Coast Plaza's Debra Downing worked closely with Segerstrom for 16 years. She said that he had a love of the arts. 

"He had such an appreciation for art and culture," Downing told KPCC. "He wanted to share it with the world, he didn't want things hidden inside his home. He wanted art to be accessible to the community."

She noted that he commissioned Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario, also known as the Noguchi Garden, a publicly accessible sculpture garden well known in Orange County. 

Downing spoke of the contributions and the legacy he will leave behind. 

"The performing arts center that he envisioned so many years ago, having this important center of art and culture in the middle of Orange County when really there was nothing here, and I think there were skeptics at the time who didn't think it could support an audience," she said. "Today, it's one of the biggest art complexes and space."

Downing says Segerstrom passed away peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Newport Beach.