By Sara Hall | NB Indy
Richard S. Stevens, a well known Newport Beach businessman and former co-owner of the Balboa Bay Club, died in his sleep on Oct. 14 at his home. He was 80.
Stevens was co-owner and president of the club in the 1960s and 1970s. He also served as commissioner for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and developed resorts, hotels and clubs throughout the world, including the Disneyland Hotel.
“That was a fun time,” said his wife of 33 years, Joan Stevens. “It was always a fun time (with him)… There are so many good memories.”
He was kind, fun and very likeable, she said, a friend to everyone. He always loved to party, the bigger the better.
“He was very easy to be with, a great companion,“ said Joan Stevens. “Never a dull moment.”
Born July 4, 1930, in Long Beach, Stevens went to high school in Pasadena and attended University of California, Berkeley. During college he was a running back on the football team and played in the Rose Bowl three times.
Stevens served in the Army in Japan and Korea in the early 1950s. He later returned to Southern California and worked in the resort industry.
“He always said pleasure was his business,” Joan Stevens said.
While he was president of the Bay Club, the membership grew from 800 to more than 3,500 and he pioneered the idea of living full-time in a resort-like environment. Also during that time, he developed the Hamilton Cove project on Catalina Island.
He was president of Wrather Hotels and developed and managed several projects around the world, including the Marina Costa Baja in Mexico, Westworld in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monterra Ranch in Monterey, Cabin Bar Ranch in Olancha and the Fisher Island Resort in Florida.
He was president and CEO of the Disneyland Hotel from 1977 to 1982, and in 1985 he was president and CEO of the Los Angeles Express, a United States Football League franchise.
Stevens was also co-founder of the Bellport Group, which operated marinas throughout the world.
“He was very creative,” said Joan Stevens, “a visionary.”
Out of his many projects throughout the years, his favorite may have been opening the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose, Joan Stevens said.
“He loved the history of it,” she said.
Stevens had health problems the past three decades, including a heart attack, colon cancer and a heart transplant.
Stevens was preceded in death by his first wife, Joyce Whistler Stevens. He is survived by Joan Stevens; daughter Sandra and her husband Peter Weston; and son Chris and his wife Jae-Eun Stevens; and stepchildren Lisa and Brad Levine; and last but not least, his beloved dog, Charlie.
Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Mariners Chapel at Mariners Church at 5001 Newport Coast Drive in Irvine.
Family members have requested flowers be sent to the chapel or, in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the American Heart Association.