Find a Member:

1998 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Donald R. Beall

Chairman Emeritus, Rockwell
Partner, Dartbrook Partners (a family partnership)

"Develop mentors in your life and never stop learning."

Donald Beall was born in 1938 in Beaumont, California.  Both of his parents worked for a number of years for Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney.  When Beall was 10, his family moved to the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California.  His father had a gas station and oil distribution business there and Beall worked for him after school.  Other jobs included setting pins at the local bowling alley and peeling and dicing onions for a hot dog stand.  'My parents had a strong sense of integrity and ethics,' says Beall.  'They taught me the discipline of hard work at an early age.'

When Beall was 12, his family made another move to Crescent City, a small northern coastal town near the Oregon border.  He worked with his father's oil distribution business, sold newspapers and worked at lumber mills.  When he wasn't helping his father, Beall was focused on school and sports.  He took college preparatory courses and was accepted to San Jose State University as an engineering student.

During his early college years, Beall spent his summers as a daytime truck driver for his father and a nighttime lumber barge loader and had various jobs at college, including an engineering teaching assistant.  He later served as a junior engineer at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica.  He went on to earn his master's degree in business from the University of Pittsburgh, which he attended on a full scholarship.

Beall returned to California in 1961 to work for Aeronutronic and Philco-Ford, the aerospace businesses of Ford.  Beall joined Rockwell International in 1968; it had just been formed through the merger of North American Aviation and Rockwell Standard.  He spent a year in their corporate office and then moved into general management.  He had many general management assignments in electronics and aerospace.  He was named Rockwell's president in 1978 at age 39, and served as president or chairman and CEO for 20 years, retiring in 1998.  Rockwell became a very focused high-technology company serving aerospace, electronics, and automotive markets.

Through a series of strategic actions, the company became focused on a diversified group of leadership electronics businesses serving factory automation, communications, avionics and various communications semiconductor world markets.  Those electronics businesses today are represented by six public companies through which significant shareowner value has been created.  The stock received by the Rockwell shareowner from these actions has increased in value from 1979 until June 2007 at a compounded annual rate of nearly 16 percent, including reinvested dividends.

The Beall Family Foundation has made multimillion dollar endowments to the following major universities: 

University of California, Irvine:

  • Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Graduate School of Business
  • Beall Center for Art and Technology in the School of the Arts

San Jose State University:

  • Beall Dean of Engineering

Beall is a director of several boards and an overseer of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  He is an investor, director and/or advisor with several private companies and investment partnerships.

Looking back over his life and achievements, Beall says it is important to have mentors along the way.  'My father, grandfather, several teachers, and employers all shared their wisdom with me.  Listen to those who can teach you and never stop learning.'