Anne Otterson, an active community member and philanthropist who supported the University of California San Diego for more than 35 years, died on Wednesday, November 23. She was 83.
“Anne Otterson was a true humanitarian who cared about people and improving their lives. I was fortunate to get to know Anne through her steadfast involvement with the campus, and I sincerely enjoyed and appreciated her kindness and warmth,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “For more than three decades, she dedicated her time and resources to support important medical research, spur innovation and entrepreneurship in San Diego, and help ensure that students from all backgrounds could achieve a stellar education with scholarship and fellowship support. Anne will be greatly missed.”
Otterson played a key role in the establishment of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego, carrying on the legacy of her late husband, William “Bill” Otterson, who was a strong local advocate for supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in San Diego. Bill Otterson served as the founding director of CONNECT. Established and initially operated by UC San Diego, CONNECT helps provide entrepreneurs and growing companies with networking opportunities, venture capital and more. The Rady School is home to Otterson Hall, which was named in 2007 in honor of his impact on the local community and the couple’s strong support in making the management school a reality at UC San Diego.
“Anne was among the community’s strongest advocates for the Rady School – and for its commitment to excellence and impact,” said Robert S. Sullivan, dean of the Rady School of Management. “She was an inspiration for innovation that is now a part of the fabric of our school.”
Anne Otterson was also a dedicated, longtime supporter of the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. A renowned cook and director of the local cooking school, Perfect Pan School of Cooking, she leveraged her talents to create the annual Celebrity Chefs Cook Gala in 1981 to raise funds for the greatest needs of the university’s cancer center. Over the course of more than 30 years, the event raised more than $9 million for cancer research and care. She also helped to fund a wide range of initiatives in other areas on campus including the UC San Diego Library, The Preuss School UCSD, ArtPower and undergraduate scholarships. She was a member of the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associates donor group.
Otterson served as a trustee of the UC San Diego Foundation, as well as a member of the board of directors of the Friends of the Library, the Moores Cancer Center advisory board and the Rady School of Management dean’s advisory council. She was also active with Project Concern International, the La Jolla Music Society, San Diego Opera and the San Diego Museum of Art.
Originally from Minnesota, Anne Otterson graduated from St. Catherine University in 1955, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. She went on to work for Chevron Research in San Francisco as a chemist, where she met her husband, Bill.
In a media interview, Otterson once said that her philosophy on life was to, “Laugh at yourself, be curious and care about others, and listen to the world about you—whether it is the babbling brook, the melodious sounds of a flute or the plaintive cry of oppressed people.”
She is survived by her three children, John, Eric and Helen, as well as two daughter-in-laws and six grandchildren.