Walter H. Shorenstein

Walter H. Shorenstein

Walter H. Shorenstein, who died June 24, 2010, at age 95, was one of the nation’s most successful businessmen. He began his real estate career in 1946 after being discharged from the U.S. Army as a major in San Francisco. He started in property management with the brokerage firm Milton Meyer & Company and was made a partner in 1951. In 1953 he was named a “Leader of Tomorrow” by Time magazine. By 1960 Mr. Shorenstein had become president and sole owner of Milton Meyer & Company, and the firm was subsequently renamed the Shorenstein Company.

Mr. Shorenstein dramatically expanded the company’s real estate development and management activities. Under his leadership the Shorenstein Company became the largest privately held owner and operator of Class A office buildings nationwide, with more than seven million square feet in downtown San Francisco, as well as significant holdings in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Kansas City and Boston.

Active in politics and philanthropy throughout his career, Mr. Shorenstein was a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party and received the Democratic National Committee’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 1995 he chaired the United Nations’ 50th Anniversary Charter Commemorative Celebration in San Francisco. The Shorenstein family is one of the nation’s leading supporters of the United Way.

Walter and his late wife, Phyllis, had three children — Joan, Carole and Douglas. Doug Shorenstein joined the family business in 1983 and became Chairman and CEO of the Shorenstein Company in 1995. Carole Shorenstein Hays is a Tony Award–winning Broadway producer and President of SHN, a theatrical entertainment company in San Francisco. In 1986 Walter and Phyllis Shorenstein endowed the Shorenstein Center in memory of Joan, an influential political journalist and producer at CBS News.

Mr. Shorenstein was a founding supporter of the Kennedy School’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative. He also sponsored the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, as well as programs at the University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of East Asian Studies.