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STANFORD -- John Adams Ditz, a leading West Coast homebuilder and former Stanford University trustee, died Saturday, Sept. 7, of cancer at his vacation home in Sun Valley, Idaho. He was 70.
Ditz, who lived in Atherton, Calif., was one of the three principals in Ditz-Crane, which built more than 20,000 homes in Western states. Ditz, who was known as Jack, also had a long and distinguished career as a volunteer, including serving as a trustee of Stanford University from 1982 to 1987.
From 1985 until the time of his death, Ditz was a member of the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution.
When Ditz retired from the Stanford Board of Trustees, the board commended him "for his work that was informed by a deep love for Stanford. . . . In an era when 'cool' seems to be in, Jack is as comfortable as an old shoe and as warm as a teddy bear. Indeed his example has often reminded us how much one should cherish these qualities that bind people together."
Ditz was also a life-long fan of the Olympic Games, having attended eight times, the first in Los Angeles when he was 11. One of the high points of his life was watching his daughter, Nancy Ditz, competing in the 1988 Olympic marathon in Seoul, Korea.
A native of Stockton, Calif., Ditz entered Stanford in 1938. He was captain of the ski team and a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. He graduated in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in engineering. After serving in the Navy, he went into business in San Jose.
Ditz and his brother, George A. Ditz, and the late Robert L. Crane founded Ditz-Crane Homes in 1954. The company prospered as the Santa Clara Valley shifted from agricultural to industrial development. The firm merged with Foremost-McKesson Corp. in 1970, and Ditz served as a vice president of the San Francisco-based corporation from 1970 to 1985.
Ditz' volunteer career began in 1952, as chairman of the Santa Clara County Heart Association. His service to Stanford began in 1959, when he became a director of the Stanford Buck Club, which raises money for athletic scholarships. He chaired the club from 1965 to 1967 and was a member of the Stanford Board of Athletics from 1965 to 1972, the last two years as chairman.
At the time of his death, he also was a trustee of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Ditz is survived by his wife of 43 years, Ann Goodwin Ditz, and four daughters: Susan Ditz of San Carlos, Calif.; Elizabeth Ditz Littlefield of Portola Valley, Calif.; Nancy Ditz Mosbacher of Woodside, Calif.; and Janet Ditz of Santa Monica, Calif. He also is survived by three grandchildren, two step-grandsons, a sister and brother, and 13 nieces and nephews.
A memorial gathering will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 524 Moore Road in Woodside. In lieu of flowers, his family requests memorial contributions be made to the Ann and Jack Ditz Scholarship Fund at Stanford University.
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