Patricia C. Dunn
Mar. 27, 1953 - Dec. 4, 2011
Resident of Orinda
Patricia C. Dunn climbed from an entry-level position as a secretarial assistant to become the Chief Executive Officer of San Francisco-based Barclays Global Investors (BGI) as it developed into the world's largest institutional money manager and subsequently served as the Non-Executive Chairman of the largest IT company in the world, died on Sunday morning December 4th at her home in Orinda, California. She was 58.
The cause was ovarian cancer, according to William Jahnke, her husband of 30 years. Dunn was diagnosed with three different types of cancer over a three-year span starting in 2002, but remained active in various philanthropic causes until recently.
Dunn's ascent in the investment and information technology worlds was remarkable; academically all she had was a degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley - no degree in business, economics, finance, engineering, or any other hard science. Her success in the professional and private life was due in part to her generous and gracious manner, her personal magnetism and the respectful manner in which she conducted her life.
In 2006 Dunn found herself at the center of a media firestorm regarding an investigation by Hewlett-Packard to find the source of leaks to the press. Although the company later acknowledged she did not authorize, direct, or conduct the investigation she was asked to resign from the board because her continued presence had become a distraction given the attention to the matter by the media. Dunn graciously complied mounting an aggressive defense, which included testifying on Capitol Hill and, after being charged with four felonies, an appearance on 60 Minutes. All charges were later dropped in "the interest of justice" by a California Superior Court Judge before a scheduled preliminary hearing was held. Not only was the case against Dunn weak, there was evidence Dunn had been scapegoated.
Dunn - a national merit scholar - attended the University of Oregon. She transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1975 with a degree in journalism. After being name CEO of Barclay's Global Advisors in 1998 she debuted at No. 11 on Fortune magazine's annual list of the most powerful women in business. At the height of media attention to the HP leak investigation story, the Bay Area Business Counsel inducted Dunn into its Hall of Fame for her contributions to the business community and philanthropic causes. At the time Dunn was the youngest recipient of the award and the only woman to be individually inducted in the Council's 64-year history.
Dunn, who was legendarily even-tempered, collaborative and focused in her business dealings, was equally tenacious as a cancer patient. By some accounts, she underwent more chemotherapy at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center than anyone else in the institution's history, outliving the three-year life expectancy for her type of ovarian cancer by nearly five years. Dunn and her husband endowed a chair at UCSF's Department of Surgery and also funded clinical trials of an ovarian cancer immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania in which, in some cases, she participated.
Besides her husband Bill Jahnke, who is a former chief executive of Wells Fargo Investment Advisers, Dunn is survived by two daughters, Janai Brengman and Michelle Cox, a son, Michael Jahnke, and ten grandchildren, as well as a brother, Paul Dunn, and a sister, Debbie Lammers and her husband Chris, along with their children Paul Dunn, Jr. and Laura, Stephen and Kelly Lammers.
(Additional information regarding Dunn's life will be found on her website www.PattieDunn.com .)
Published in Marin Independent Journal on Dec. 10, 2011