Nelson Rising, chairman emeritus of Rising Realty Partners, former member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, and life member of the Caltech community, passed away on February 9, 2023, at the age of 81. He shaped the landscape of Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other California cities, and played an influential role in state politics.
Rising was named to the Caltech Board of Trustees in 2006, became a senior trustee in 2013, and a life member of the Caltech community in 2019. He chaired the Buildings and Grounds Committee and was a member of the Executive and Investment committees.
"Nelson cared deeply for the Caltech community. His leadership and insight helped to ensure that the Institute remained forward-looking as it developed new initiatives across disciplines," says Caltech Board of Trustees chair David W. Thompson (MS '78).
"Nelson's quiet confidence, collegial insights, and devotion to Caltech as Buildings and Grounds chair helped shape the Institute and earned him the admiration of the Board, the administration, and the faculty alike," says Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics.
Rising was born on August 27, 1941, in New York City, New York. He attended the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, before earning his BA in economics from UCLA in 1963. He served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1963 to 1966 and received his JD from UCLA School of Law in 1967, where he was managing editor of the UCLA Law Review. He worked at the prestigious O'Melveny & Myers prior to entering the real estate industry in 1972.
From 1983 to 1994, Rising was a senior partner and partner-in-charge of major Los Angeles area projects for Maguire Thomas Partners. Among his many contributions, Rising developed Library Square, an effort that restored the city's historic Central Library and constructed the 72-story Library Tower.
In 1994, Rising became the CEO of Catellus Development Corporation. During his tenure, he transformed the company from a railroad land company to a diversified development company and then to one of the nation's largest real estate investment trusts. Most notable among the many Catellus developments is Mission Bay in San Francisco, a 303-acre neighborhood and home to a UCSF Medical Center and the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital—San Francisco.
Later in his career, Rising founded Rising Realty Partners, an environmentally conscious real estate investment and operating company, with his son and current CEO, Christopher Rising, and partner, Scott McMullin. The company now owns and manages more than 5 million square feet across multiple states.
Along with service on the Caltech Board of Trustees, Rising was chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and The Real Estate Roundtable think tank, and a member of the W. M. Keck Foundation board. He was the statewide finance director for the late Senator Ted Kennedy during his bid to become the Democratic presidential nominee and the campaign chair for the late Tom Bradley in each of his Los Angeles mayoral victories.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon Rising, children Christopher and Matthew, and three grandchildren.