Mark Rubin, a Riverside-area property developer, Holocaust survivor, and ardent supporter of education and healthcare in the Inland Empire, died Saturday, February 13, 2021. He was 84.
Over the past 30 years, Rubin and his wife Pam have made generous and frequent contributions to UC Riverside of both time and charitable gifts. Since 1998, their philanthropic support for UCR has led the way for many innovative new programs and projects. Through their generosity, the Rubins helped to grow the California Museum of Photography and establish the UCR Alumni & Visitors Center and the engineering college's Center for Environmental Research & Technology, or CE-CERT.
Their visionary support for the UCR School of Medicine began in the 1990s with the creation of an endowed fellowship and eventually an endowed professorship for the dean. The Rubins helped to lead a 10-year, multi-donor, community effort to establish the Maimonides endowed chair in Jewish Studies. Rubin was elected as a member of UCR’s Board Trustees in 2017, a position he held until his death.
Dr. Deborah Deas, dean of the School of Medicine, said she was deeply saddened to hear of Rubin’s passing.
“Mark will be sorely missed, as both he and Pam played major roles in garnering the campus and community support needed to form the UCR School of Medicine,” Deas said. “The Rubins have given generously to UC Riverside, including the donation that endowed my role as the Mark and Pam Rubin Dean. I am incredibly grateful for his steadfast support of our community-based medical school over the years. On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of the UCR School of Medicine, I extend my deepest condolences to Pam and the Rubin family.”
Born in 1937 in the town of Sabinov in then-Czechoslovakia, Rubin’s youth was marred by World War II and the Holocaust. When he was 7 years old, Rubin and his family endured a brutal four-day train journey to the Terezin Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Prague. More than 150,000 Jews were held at this camp for months or years before being sent to their deaths at the Treblinka and Auschwitz extermination camps. Rubin and his older brother were two of only 102 children who survived.
After liberation by Russian forces in 1945, political instability and continued anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia led the family to emigrate to the United States in 1948, where they settled in New York City. In 1953, at the age of 16, Rubin moved with his family to California, where he got a job as a laborer on a construction site. From that humble start, and through hard work and tenacity, he built a career in real estate and property development that culminated in the establishment of his Beverly Hills company, Regional Properties, Inc. Rubin is survived by his wife Pam; their three children, Caren, Brian, and Michelle; and four grandchildren.
Rubin’s connection to Riverside began in the 1960s, when he began developing agricultural land into residences, offices, and shopping centers. That connection was strengthened over the years by an impressively long list of community service projects and philanthropic gestures. Rubin’s last real estate development project, The Mark in downtown Riverside, is slated to open later this year.
Beginning in 2010, the Rubins served concurrently as chairs of Riverside university support organizations, with Mark serving as chair of La Sierra University Foundation board and Pam serving as chair of the UC Riverside Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Pam also served as the chair of the School of Medicine’s Advisory Board.
Rubin also served on Riverside's Downtown Partnership board, the Mission Inn Foundation board, and has supported the Riverside County Philharmonic. Beyond Riverside, he was a Board of Governors member at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a trustee at American Jewish University in Bel-Air, and a trustee at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Both he and Pam served as regents at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles.
The Rubins were recipients of the 2014 UCR Medallion, presented in recognition of “extraordinary service, dedication and generosity to education at all levels and for enduring support of UC Riverside and the community.” During a 2014 video interview about this honor, the couple said they were inspired to give back to a community that has given them so much.
“I hope that Pam and I lead by example, and you can’t teach giving, you can only encourage it,” Rubin said.
This story contains information from an interview with Mark Rubin conducted by The World War II Museum.