January 18, 2017 | By Alexa Brown — On December 18, 2016, long-time friend and benefactor of Pepperdine School of Law Herbert V. Nootbaar passed away at the age of 108.
In a University Statement, President Andrew K. Benton spoke to his emotions on Herb’s passing: “I wish everyone could have the gift of Herb Nootbaar in their lives, but—sadly—there is only one Herb Nootbaar. He was one of God’s originals. Tall and dignified, witty beyond comparison, and blessed with the ability to maintain friendships around the world, to say that he was my friend sounds like bragging, but I am proud to say it was the truth. He traveled the world on behalf of California and America, encouraged humanitarian aid to the Soviet Union at a crucial moment, was a booster of business enterprise, and loved all who came within his embrace. I don’t believe Herb ever met a stranger. To know him was to love him and to admire him deeply.”
Herb and his late wife Elinor endowed the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics in 2007 with a generous gift of $6 million dollars, naming the institute on November 8, 2007— Herb’s 99th Birthday. As stated on the Institute’s website, “The Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics explores the intersection of these three key components in the realm of legal practice. Through interdisciplinary seminars, conferences, and symposia, students and faculty explore values and sharpen skills.” Herb and Elinor donated an additional $4 million dollars in support of the work being done through the Institute.
“The better we came to know Pepperdine University, its people, and its values, the more we felt the answer was in that direction,” said Elinor in an article for Pepperdine Law. Upon learning about Pepperdine’s Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics, they felt it was a perfect fit. “When we realized the extent of the institute’s work and the programs and mission, we were so inspired and wanted to help,” said Elinor.
The endowment of the Nootbaar Institute has enabled further investigation of law, religion, and ethics through interdisciplinary seminars, conferences, and symposia. The endowment has also strengthened Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program, which is housed in the Nootbaar Institute. Among other initiatives, the program gives students the opportunity to work with human rights organizations both nationally and internationally providing stipends for students pursuing international human rights work across the globe.
On his way to Uganda for his 20th trip under the banner of the Nootbaar Institute, Professor and Director of Global Programs Jim Gash recalled Herb’s “talents and charisma. He loved to travel because he considered himself a visitor in God’s international museum. He loved art and he loved people, especially people whose lives were different from his. Herb has made a lasting impact on literally thousands of God’s masterpieces throughout the developing world. The Nootbaar Institute he endowed has transformed lives of law students in Malibu and prisoners in Uganda. When he was in his 80’s, he fell from a roof and broke his neck. On numerous occasions, Herb told me he thought his life was spared so he could use his talents to change people’s lives. He certainly changed mine.”
Director of the Nootbaar Institute, Professor Robert Cochran said, “Herb was a wise counselor and a generous benefactor to the Institute which bears his and Elinor’s name. As a result of their guidance and generosity young people will be challenged to pursue high ideals and people around the world will experience the blessing of justice.”
Herbert V. Nootbaar grew up in Eagle Rock, CA, and began working at his grandparents’ orange grove in Los Angeles. He later climbed his way up the corporate ladder at a cereal and commercial animal feed production company, the California Grain & Feed Association, ultimately holding title as President in 1953. Herb traveled to 126 countries within his life, held company with friends such as Ronald and Nancy Reagan and George and Laura Bush, and gave to causes throughout California including the Herbert and Elinor Nootbaar Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Courtyard in Simi Valley, California, and the Herbert V. Nootbaar Baseball Office and Hall of Fame Complex at the University of Southern California.
Herb was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2014, which pays homage to 100 immigrants and their children each year and commemorates their contributions to the United States. That same year, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lincoln Club of Orange County.
The memorial was held Wednesday, January 11 at Laguna Presbyterian Church in Laguna Beach, California. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be offered in Herbert V. Nootbaar’s memory to the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics at Pepperdine University School of Law. He is survived by his son, John; daughter, JoAnne; stepson, Gary Barker; 18 grandchildren; and 28 great-grandchildren.