Edgar Stern, philanthropist and longtime San Juan Community Theatre board member, dies in Seattle

Edgar Stern ... philanthropist served 12 years on the board of the San Juan Community Theatre and contributed to numerous local causes. - Royal Street Corporation
Edgar Stern ... philanthropist served 12 years on the board of the San Juan Community Theatre and contributed to numerous local causes.
— image credit: Royal Street Corporation

Philanthropist Edgar B. Stern Jr., longtime member of the board of the San Juan Community Theatre and contributor to numerous community endeavors, died Sunday in Seattle.

The cause of death was not released. He was 86.

“Edgar was a true visionary and pioneer in the ski, television and hotel industries," said Bob Wheaton, president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, one of Mr. Stern's companies.

"His passion, determination and commitment to excellence over the years are evidenced by the legacies he leaves behind, not only in Deer Valley Resort, but in his successful developments and projects including the Stanford Court Hotel (in San Francisco), Aspen’s famed Starwood Ranch residential subdivision and the Royal Orleans Hotel – to mention a few.”

An announcement issued by the company said Mr. Stern had, in all his endeavors, "a deep commitment to excellence and a philosophy of unstinting service to his community."

Mr. Stern was born Sept. 1, 1922 in New York City, the son of Edgar B. Stern, a businessman with interests in publishing, and the former Edith Rosenwald, whose philanthropist father owned a large interest in Sears, Roebuck & Co.

The younger Mr. Stern was raised in New Orleans, where he attended Metairie Park Country Day School. He was a graduate of the Hotchkiss School and Harvard University.

During World War II, he served as a Signal Corps officer in the Pacific Theatre and at the Pentagon during the Korean War.

In 1948, along with his father, he founded WDSU-TV, Channel 6, in New Orleans, the first commercial television station in the Gulf Coast region. WDSU was the recipient of a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. He served on local civic and social services boards and served nationally as public relations chairman of the United Fund.

Among Mr. Stern's many New Orleans projects was participation in the creation of the Royal Orleans Hotel and the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Oakwood Shopping Center, another of his developments, was the first air-conditioned shopping center in the region.

In 1968 he moved to Aspen, Colo., where he developed the Starwood residential subdivision and Red Mountain Ranch. There he served for many years as chairman of the Music Associates of Aspen, the governing body of the Aspen Music Festival & School. He took the leadership position in establishing the Aspen Valley Improvement Association and served on the Aspen Valley Hospital Board of Directors.

His continuing interest in hospitality led in the 1970s to the nearly simultaneous development of The Stanford Court Hotel and the Deer Valley Resort. Stanford Court Hotel was continuously awarded the prestigious Mobil Five-Star rating.

A new standard for the ski industry was set at Deer Valley when Mr. Stern achieved his dream of combining the sport of skiing with the service, food and amenities of a five star hotel. Deer Valley Resort is frequently honored by the readers of SKI magazine with the rating of No. 1 Ski Resort in North America.

In the field of education, he served on the Visitors Committee of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and on the boards of Tulane University and the University of Chicago.

Mr. Stern relocated to San Juan Island in 1986. He served 12 years on the board of the San Juan Community Theatre and contributed to numerous community endeavors.

In 2007, he retired his position as chairman of the board of Royal Street Corporation and was succeeded by his son, Lessing.

“The operation of Deer Valley will remain unchanged,” Wheaton said in a press release. “With the assistance of his son, Lessing, who took over as chairman of the board of Deer Valley’s parent company Royal Street Corporation in 2007, we are honored to move forward in continuing to fulfill Edgar’s legacy and dream.”

In addition to his wife of 61 years, Pauline (Polly), Mr. Stern is survived by his daughter, Sandra McIver; sons, Eric, Monte and Lessing; seven grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

A private memorial service will be held for the family and a public celebration of Mr. Stern’s life will be planned at a later date in Park City, Utah. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made in his name to any of the following:

U.W. Medicine
Box 358045
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98105
with a memo reference in the check "Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in memory of Edgar B. Stern Jr."

Alzheimer's Association
12721 30th Ave., NE
Suite 101
Seattle, WA 98215
with a memo reference in the check "In memory of Edgar B. Stern Jr."

The United States Ski Team
P.O. Box 100
Park City, UT 84060
With memo reference on the check “In memory of Edgar B. Stern Jr.”

Or to the charity of your choice in Mr. Stern’s name.

The family respectfully requests that they be given private time to grieve. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:

Royal Street Corporation
7620 Royal Street East, Suite 205
P.O. Box 3179
Park City, UT 84060 – 3179

Or e-mail to

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