James Didion
1939 - 2020
James Didion
December 20, 1939 - April 2, 2020
James Jerrett Didion (Jim) passed away April 2, 2020 at age 80. Jim lived on the Monterey Peninsula for the last 40 years. He was born December 20, 1939 in Sacramento, California and attended Sacramento public schools graduating from El Camino High School. He enrolled at American River Junior College and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He went on to attend the University of California at Berkeley graduating in 1961. He majored in political science and was a proud brother of Phi Gamma Delta. Just after graduation he began a whirlwind five week courtship of Gloria Geisler who then became his wife of 58 years.
Moving to Oakland, CA he began his real estate career at Coldwell Banker Commercial. After a six year stint at the Sacramento office he was promoted to regional manager and moved his family to Houston, Texas. Following 10 years in Houston he went on to become President of the company moving back to Los Angeles, CA. Until mid 1999 he was CEO of CB Richard Ellis, as well as Chairman, and led the firm's growth from $400 million in annual revenues in 1986 to more than $1 billion in 1999. Jim was widely recognized as a pioneer in building a global, fully integrated, professional services business and has been credited with bringing CB to its position as the largest commercial real estate company in the world.
Just as important to Jim were his community efforts. He served on the boards of several organizations; chairing the board of trustees at Santa Catalina School, consulting on real estate issues to the Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, serving on the advisory board of the Fisher Center at the Haas Business School, serving as a trustee of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, and proudly served as National Real Estate Consultant to the U.S. Olympic Committee. He has been the recipient of several community awards including the Humanitarian Award given in 1993 by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the Spirit of Life Award given in 1998 by the City of Hope Research Institute.
Jim is survived by his beloved wife Gloria, his sister Joan Didion Dunne, his children, Kelley Didion Peters, Steven James Didion, Lori Didion Hunt, and his grandchildren Ryan James Matthews, Alexander Steven Didion, Kathryn Jane Didion, and Shannon Alice Traikoff and predeceased by his parents Eduene Jerrett and Frank Reese Didion and grandson Sean Michael Matthews. His memorial service will be held at a future date when many can gather. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation: 23625 Holman Highway, Monterey, CA 93940.

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Published by Monterey Herald Obits on Apr. 8, 2020.
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6 Entries
Hard to believe it’s been a year. I think of Jim often as a good friend and mentor. Gloria, if you see these I trust you are well.
Darryl Parmenter
April 2, 2021
It is with extreme sadness that I hear about Jim's passing. JIM was my mentor in the industry and most recently serving on my Board at PARMENTER. Jim was one of the industries true icons never to be forgotten.
You will be greatly missed my friend. God bless you!
Thoughts and prayers to your family!
April 16, 2020
I spent 35 years at CBRE in a number of positions in four different cities.
I enjoyed them all, but the most meaningful was the Senior Vice President, Regional Manager for the Southeast. During those 7'years I was on our Board of Directors led by Jim. Among the challenges we faced, too fast expansions of our office forced by Sears, and buying our company from Sears and going private. A few years later, came a financial crisis, and we were forced to close a number of our offices, and make a number of really difficult decisions. Jim's leadership was critical. He led the way, and our company survived and grew to the world leader in commercial real estate services.
Steve Hughes
April 8, 2020
Jim seemed larger than life when I was a 'rookie' at then Coldwell Banker. It was clear from those early days that hard work, commitment, and service to our clients, was expected to achieve true excellence. CB was a platform of learning and friendships that has been invaluable and lasted a lifetime for so many of us. Thank you JIm. You will be missed but your legacy endures.
Ray Sandelli
April 8, 2020
It was my privilege and honor to have reported to Jim for seven years during which time I was witness to the brilliant vision, strategy and cornerstones he put into place that guided his decision making and resource investments
over the entire decade of the 1990s.

Jim was a ten years or more in front of other thought leaders in the industry with his global vision, and his understanding of the future urgency for the creation,expansion, and refinement of strategic and vital services that would be relevant immediately and in the future.

He clearly understood the vital nature of fully integrated service delivery, strategic resource allocation, change management, capital markets expansion,corporate services, and many other paradigm shifting initiatives the firm would need to prioritize and execute in order to achieve the global leadership position it so deservedly has earned and occupies today.

As Chairman, Jim put together a world class board of leaders from a variety of industries and backgrounds from whom he garnered intelligent counsel while navigating the dynamics of an ever changing and demanding market place and evolving culture.

Jim did not suffer fools or foolery easily but he was always open to new ideas and practices that would improve the firm's culture and better serve its outstanding people (as long as one had the strength of their own convictions and solid rationales for offering alternatives to prevailing thinking).

Of course, Mr. Chairman as I often called him always prioritized exceptional client service as a fundamental part of the CB process, and he never stopped creating major deal opportunities for the firm and its professionals as he was a consummate salesman/deal maker who loved to promote CB's businesses and our industry.

My most impressive memory of Jim was his great courage and kind leadership displayed the day after the start of the Rodney King riots of the 90's (when the entire city seemed to be on fire or under siege, the airport closed and every citizen filled with apprehension as to what would next occur).

However Jim showed up at our offices the next morning in suit and tie, in good humor, and actually took a drive around the city to observe for himself what terrible events had and were occurring. Upon his safe return he
reassured everyone that the city was returning to normalcy and all would soon be well.
(Not sure how he knew that but it proved to be true.)

His demonstration of optimism as the rioting continued is something I will never forget as it certainly gave strength to the entire senior staff and eventually Jim took that event and in concert with Peter Ueberroth and others created what would become known as "Re Build LA" which helped to restore civility and hope to millions of citizens.

Finally Jim had a kind heart for the homeless in LA and started a program to provide meal vouchers to any and all who were in need, and he often encouraged others to find ways to give back to their communities in meaningful and lasting ways.

I was fortunate to spend time with Jim often socializing after work hours both during and occasionally after I left the firm.
There is no doubt his faith and confidence in me during those years enabled this former CB guy to have had the courage to be different while having made a couple small contributions to the firm that thanks to Jim, Gary, and
many of the best brokers in the world served to give greater meaning to my life.

Thank You Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to serve you and the firm.

With great love and respect,

April 8, 2020
My sincere condolences to James's family. May the God of peace and comfort be with the family during this most difficult time.
April 8, 2020
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