Dedicated to family, passionate about learning, and ultimately a model citizen, Henry Thomas Segerstrom gave more than he received.
Born April 5, 1923, to Swedish immigrants in Santa Ana, California. Henry Segerstrom was a philanthropist, businessman, and cultural leader. Henry graduated from Stanford University earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1948, a Master of Business Administration degree, after serving in World War II. His vision for the future was clear and focused: where others saw obstacles, he pursued goals. A member our our nation’s greatest generation, his determination helped to develop Orange County into a cosmopolitan setting.
With his dedicated community leadership through gifts of valuable land and financial resources, along with commissions of critically significant architecture and sculpture, Henry T. Segerstrom displayed a lifelong commitment to creating a vital cultural life for Orange County. Orange County is now recognized for its sophisticated arts community, its innovation, entrepreneurism, and cutting-edge successes in business and technology.
Henry Segerstrom volunteered in 1942 to serve in the United States Army, where he remained on active duty until 1947, rising from the rank of private to captain in the Field Artillery. Severely wounded in action in France in 1945, he was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the European Theater of Operations Ribbon with Battle Star.
As managing partner of C. J. Segerstrom and Sons, a family-owned commercial real estate and retail management company established in 1898, Henry T. Segerstrom spearheaded the family’s commercial development of Orange County, building South Coast Plaza, one of the largest and most profitable enclosed retail centers in the United States, Opening in 1967 in what was then a quiet agricultural community, South Coast Plaza today draws more than 18 million visitors each year and has evolved to become an international destination for fashion and luxury shopping. Envisioning the mixing of resources that would surround South Coast Plaza, Henry T. Segerstrom not only transitioned his grandfather’s company from farming into retail and commercial real estate but worked steadily to unite commerce with the arts and to integrate the arts into Segerstrom commercial developments.
Good judgment, I think, was something that was characteristic of the members of the [Segerstrom] family. We were always conservative, but realized that the least conservative decision one could make would be to do nothing. And we never wanted to just sit on our laurels or just sit on our land…. We wanted to grow with the county. – Henry T. Segerstrom