Philip Summers Borden, a staunch supporter and member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), former professor of business administration, Harvard alumnus and one-time real estate executive died Dec. 26. He was 89.
Borden, a resident of Laguna Woods in Orange County, California, was "a thoughtful guy who described himself as a 'real progressive' and a 'true Christian,'" said Hal Gunn, Associate Director of Gift Planning for the national ACLU. Borden collapsed while walking home from a meal in the senior living community's dining room and never regained consciousness, said Gunn, who became friends with Borden through his work with ACLU SoCal.
Borden was born in El Dorado, Kansas in 1925. As a child he was called "Summers" after his mother's beloved grandmother, Lucy Summers. Following a brief stint as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Force, he received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas in 1947, an MBA in 1950, and a Doctorate of Commercial Science in 1955, both from Harvard University.
He taught at Harvard and Northwestern Universities before being, as he describes it in some of his papers, "recruited into the homebuilding industry" by Ohio-based Huber Homes, Inc. in 1956. At the time, Huber was one of the Midwest's largest developers and Borden served variously as CEO, Executive Vice President, President, and Director of the company during his 14-year tenure.
He went on to hold several positions with major homebuilders and manufacturers in the Midwest, Washington, D.C., Florida, Chicago, and Southern California including a stint working for philanthropist Eli Broad during the 1960s in Los Angeles.
Borden eventually went back to academia acting as Dean of the School of Administration and Management at California Coastal University. While there he focused on advanced education for mid-career professionals.
In his later life, Borden committed himself to charitable work and civil liberties issues. He worked with the Carter Center, The Jewish National Fund, the Ford Foundation, the Unitarian Church and was active in the homeowners' boards and associations where he lived.
"His general approach to life was that he thought people should be treated kindly and with respect, said Gunn who is charged with finding a good home for Borden's cat "Barbara Boxer".
Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of ACLU SoCal Orange County and Inland Empire offices, was a frequent lunch companion of Borden. She called him a generous man who sometimes got frustrated "with people who weren't pure about what they said."
"He liked having a relationship with me and the (Orange County) office and the (ACLU) staff. He would come to the office periodically because he really felt like we were walking the walk and he was irritated with people who didn't. He was very genuine," she said.
Although Borden, an only child who didn't have a family, Escobosa Helzer said he wasn't a lonely man.
"The last time I saw him he showed me all the things he had gathered that were really important to him. He was an avid reader of multiple subject matters. It was clear he had a thirst for knowledge. He had this painting that his barber had done in the 1940s and he wanted me to make sure it didn't end up on a trash heap or flea market," she said. "I think he had a lot of wonderful relationships even though he didn't have a family and that he positively affected people's lives."
In personal papers in which he listed his "principles and beliefs," Borden remarked, "I do not always lock my house or car in the hope that a taker can benefit from it." On the same document he named "real and fictitious" people he admired including President Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, and J.D. Salinger's hero from "Catcher in the Rye" Holden Caulfield, as well as the protagonist — Atticus Finch — from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jesus. Among his dislikes he listed: "Greed!" Of himself he said, "Like bright people, often bored by dull people with no interests".
Borden will be cremated and interred in his family's plot in Waldron, Arkansas. There will be no memorial service. Contributions in Borden’s memory may be made to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, 1313 W. 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.