Finding Meaning

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis helped Edward M. Dowd ’72 find passion for love, art, and giving back. His inspired legacy takes shape in the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building, where Broncos continue to create and learn.

2016, #4094, Chihuly, Chandelier, Students, Edward M. Dowd Art And Art History Building,

In 1976, Edward M. Dowd ’72 began a booming career in investment real estate. He went on to found EMD Properties Inc., an investment real estate company, San Jose National Bank, and Commerce Savings and Loan in Sacramento.

No small feats. And for years, business took up much of his focus.

In 1993, that began to shift. At the age of 47, Ed was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Work took up less of his time. Art took up more.

“A world filled with art is a far more enjoyable place,” he told Santa Clara Magazine in 2014.

2016, #4020, Chihuly, Installation, Edward M. Dowd Art And Art History Building, Interior, Chandelier, Red, Glass, Installer, Installation
Edward M. Dowd ’72 (seen above with partner Terri Eckert) gifted sculptures by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly to SCU. They are installed in the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History building, built in 2016.

Although he’d long given back, serving on the SCU Board of Fellows and appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown ’56 as vice chairman of the California State Athletic Commission, Dowd wanted to do more after his diagnosis. And he found ways to combine those two passions—art and philanthropy.

Among his early gifts was a glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly for the lobby of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Mountain View, where Ed was treated for MS.

Chihuly, the famous Seattle glass master, is responsible in part for Dowd’s love of art.

“Art transcends all time and seems like a great cause to me,” Ed told SCM.

In 2014, he made a significant donation to SCU, establishing the Edward M. Dowd Art and Art History Building. A bold orange and red Chihuly sculpture greets visitors there, as well.

The building is a cornerstone of the Mission campus’ arts neighborhood, with the de Saisset Museum, Recital Hall, and Mayer Theatre, making the northwest portion of campus a destination for the fine and performing arts.

Among his final gifts are funding for advocacy programs for those with MS and support for the Natividad Hospital Foundation in Salinas.

Ed is survived by his family, including his partner, Terri Eckert, and brother Thomas M. Dowd ’70.

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