1993 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"I think if we make life too easy, we don’t appreciate it. I think we appreciate things more when we’re on the edge of our seat."
George Argyros was born in Detroit in 1937, but moved to Pasadena, California, when he was 11. Although his family struggled financially, he says they were "rich in love and support."
Argyros had a paper route at the age of 11, and then at 14 took a second job in a supermarket for 25 cents an hour. As a senior in high school, he worked nearly full time to support himself and help his family. He worked more than 50 hours a week as a grocery department manager to pay his way through Chapman College in Orange, California. He claims working and going to school at the same time was difficult but gave him a sense of self-worth. He graduated in 1959 with a degree in business and economics.
Still working in the grocery business after graduation, Argyros became licensed in securities, insurance, and real estate. He began to invest in real estate and opened his own brokerage office in 1963. In 1968 he established a company that was later called Arnel Development Company. In the 1970s he began to diversify into other businesses.
Argyros served as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and Principality of Andorra from November 2001 to November 2004. Ambassador Argyros is currently chairman and chief executive officer of Arnel & Affiliates, a prominent West Coast diversified investment company, with corporate offices located in Costa Mesa, California. He is also a general partner in Westar Capital, a private investment company. From 1981 to 1987, he was co-owner of AirCal, and from 1981 to 1989, he was owner of the Seattle Mariners Baseball club of the American League for nine full seasons.
Ambassador Argyros formerly served as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations for the U.S. Trade Representative until 1990, when President G. W. Bush appointed him to the board of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) . He completed his term on the Freddie Mac Board in March 1993.
From 1976 to 2001, Argyros served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Chapman University. He currently remains on the Chapman Board while also serving as a Life Trustee for California Institute of Technology. He is an International Councillor and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., that provides world leaders with strategic insights on and policy solutions to global issues; Trustee Emeritus of Library of Congress Open World Leadership Board; former Member of U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Member of the Hoover Institution's Board of Overseers, former Chairman of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation; Founding Chairman for the Nixon Center in Washington D.C. ; Board of Regents for the Orange County Council Boy Scouts of America, as well as former Chairman and Board Member of the Council; Chairman Emeritus of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, a major philanthropic foundation for scientific research.
Since becoming a member of the Horatio Alger Association, Argyros has served as the Association's president and CEO from 1995 to 1998, chairman from 1998 to 2000, and is currently serving as chairman emeritus. "I have been greatly inspired by the Horatio Alger members," he says. "It has been an honor and privilege for me to participate in helping our young Scholars pursue their dreams and goals."
Argyros has often addressed America's youth and his advice is heartfelt. "The American dream is all about risk, reward, hard work, commitment, and dedication," he says. "Fight courageously for the principles you believe in. Use every resource at your command to improve and advance yourself. Create better lives for your families, work hard for the sake of your communities and your faith, and make this a better world. Success takes hard work and commitment. Remember that freedom and democracy will survive and prosper only if each of us takes personal responsibility for our actions and ourselves. We need to inspire people to reach high and dare to dream big dreams!"