Dallas businessman, philanthropist Robert H. Dedman Sr. dies

Aug. 20, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas—Dallas businessman and University of Texas at Austin alumnus Robert H. Dedman Sr., one of the state's most prolific philanthropists, died Tuesday morning (Aug. 20) in his home after a long illness. He was 76.

Dedman contributed more than $100 million to education and other causes. In 1986 he and his wife, Nancy, pledged $10 million for scholarships in The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts and to support the university’s National Merit Scholars.

The university named a campus street for Dedman in September 2000, honoring him for several decades of philanthropy and service.

“Robert Dedman was an enlightened citizen,” said Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “He loved life and cared deeply about the human potential to achieve with honor and grace.

“That love and care are the roots of his remarkable generosity toward institutions of education and health. He strengthened his community and state. With many, I mourn his passing.”

Founder and chairman of ClubCorp International Inc., Dedman made the Forbes list of America’s 400 wealthiest individuals with a net worth of $1.2 billion. ClubCorp, which was founded in 1957, owns or operates more than 200 golf courses, country clubs, private business clubs and resorts worldwide.

In 1957 Dedman bought 400 acres in Dallas to build Brookhaven Country Club. Since then, ClubCorp has grown to hold $1.6 billion in assets.

He and his wife, Nancy, and their children have cumulatively given more than $77 million to Southern Methodist University (SMU), where two schools bear the Dedman name.

The UT Ex-Students' Association in 1990 named Dedman a Distinguished Alumnus in recognition of his accomplishments in business, civic service and philanthropy. He studied at The University of Texas at Austin from 1945 to 1948, earning three degrees.

The street-naming idea came as a surprise to the honoree when campus officials approached him with it.

"I have a lot of love for this university," Dedman said at the dedication ceremony. "This is a meaningful honor to me, and one that I will cherish."

Other institutions bearing his name include: Dedman Memorial Hospital and Dedman Medical Center, the Dedman College and Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports at SMU, as well as the Robert H. Dedman ferry that travels between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula.

Dedman served two terms as a member and chairman of the Texas State Highway and Public Transportation Commission. His honors include: Texas Entrepreneur of the Year in 1976, Dallas Humanitarian of the Year in 1980, Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1987 and Horatio Alger Award in 1989.

He chronicled his philosophies in his 1999 book, King of Clubs: Grow Rich In More Than Money. In it he said golf was a metaphor for life.

“You don’t have to be a golfer,” he wrote, “to understand that the game involves keeping score, hoping to win and learning to lose.”

Dedman is survived by his wife, Nancy, daughter, Patricia Dedman Dietz, and her husband, Mark Dietz; son, Robert H. Dedman Jr., and his wife, Rachael Redecker Dedman; five grandchildren, Jonathan Dietz, Jeffrey Dietz, Christina Dietz, Catherine Dedman and Nancy Dedman.

Funeral services will be at 3 p.m., Friday at Highland Park Methodist Church in Dallas. A reception will follow at Meadows Museum on the SMU campus. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be sent in the form of written recollections of Robert Dedman. These memories will be compiled and distributed in his honor. The recollections can be mailed to 3030 LBJ Freeway, Dallas, Texas, 75235.

For further information contact: Don Hale, 512-471-3151.