Remembering Gary Erickson

LOS ANGELES (March 28, 2024) — CHMC Foundation expresses its deepest condolences on the recent passing of Gary Erickson, the first president of the foundation. Gary leaves behind a legacy of unwavering dedication, leadership, and community impact. He was 83.

Gary EricksonGary's early years in Exeter, California were defined by his athletic prowess, excelling in football, basketball, and swimming at Exeter Union High School. This passion for sports carried him to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he played basketball.

After earning his bachelor’s in sociology/criminology from UC Santa Barbara in 1963 and his master’s from San Diego State University in 1966, Gary served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. His commendable service as a Communications Officer on the USS Nicholas earned him several medals, reflecting his bravery and commitment to his country.

Upon returning from military service, Gary embarked on a distinguished career focused on community development, crime prevention and nonprofit leadership.

Former CHMC president and CEO Rick Norling recalls, “Gary has been a great friend and colleague since we met in LA in the eighties. I was a young, new CEO looking to differentiate California Hospital and thought that creating a foundation might be a good idea. A mutual friend introduced me to Gary who was then the No. 2  at United Way LA. I was looking for advice and we had a great talk and to his surprise I said, ‘How about becoming the CEO and building out this foundation with me?’ He went on to say that they were in the middle of a major campaign and he could not leave. I said, ‘I can wait for you.’ The rest is a great story of a foundation that has raised more than $300,000,000 for this downtown LA hospital.”

First CHMC Foundation Board Meeting August  21, 1985As the first president of California Hospital Medical Center Foundation, Gary played a pivotal role in advancing healthcare initiatives and community outreach, leaving a lasting impact on the organization's growth and success. 

After establishing CHMC Foundation in 1985, he increased annual gifts from under $500,000 in 1984 to an average of over $4.5 million annually between 1985 and 1988. During this same period, the foundation successfully completed a $12 million campaign to build a new tower to serve the low-income community in downtown Los Angeles. 

“I am honored to follow in Gary’s pioneering footsteps and lead the CHMC Foundation today, raising much-needed resources so that our hospital can save lives and improve the health of children and families who need us,” says Susan Shum, Chief Philanthropy Officer at CHMC Foundation. “Thank you, Gary, for building a lasting legacy and blazing such a well-defined path for us to follow.”

In 1988, Gary founded The Erickson Group, where he served as President and CEO, providing invaluable consulting services to numerous nonprofit organizations. His strategic vision, program development expertise and fundraising acumen helped raise over $800 million in charitable donations, benefiting countless communities across California.

Beyond his professional achievements, Gary was a dedicated volunteer, serving on numerous boards and organizations, demonstrating his deep-rooted commitment to making a positive difference in people's lives. Gary's legacy of service, leadership, and philanthropy will continue to inspire generations to come. 


Photo 1: Gary Erickson
Photo 2: First California Hospital Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors Meeting - August 21, 1985

About California Hospital Medical Center Foundation

California Hospital Medical Center established its foundation in 1985 to raise philanthropic support for building projects, equipment, patient care services and community outreach. The generosity and vision of our donors generate the resources to provide the highest quality medical care to all in need, regardless of their ability to pay. The foundation has dedicated staff and is governed by a Board of Directors that oversees a comprehensive fund development program incorporating special events, private foundation and corporate grants, individual giving and government support—raising more than $25 million per year. 

About Dignity Health - California Hospital Medical Center 

Founded in 1887, Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center is a 318-bed, acute care, nonprofit hospital located in downtown Los Angeles. The hospital offers a full complement of services including a Level II trauma center, the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health, obstetrics and pediatric services, and comprehensive cardiac and surgical services. The hospital shares a legacy of humankindness with Dignity Health and is part of CommonSpirit Health, one of the nation’s five largest health care systems. Visit for more information.


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