“Joe was living proof of the value of an Evergreen education,” said Evergreen President Thomas L. “Les” Purce. “He always said Evergreen taught him how to learn and how to solve problems, which is exactly what he did.”
An accomplished public servant at the federal and state level, Dear was noted for restoring to solvency the California Public Employees Retirement system in the wake of the financial crisis. Calpers, the nation’s largest public pension fund, was deemed “unsustainable” by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of 2008. Dear shifted the fund’s investment strategy and over five years brought the fund from $183.3 billion to $283.9 billion in assets.
Dear also served as head of Washington State’s public pension fund, as head of the federal Occupation Health and Safety Administration under President Clinton, and as chief of staff to Washington Governor Gary Locke.
Dear was committed to “making government work better through innovative public policy and sheer force of will,” said Calpers in a statement on Dear’s death.
A lifelong advocate for Evergreen, he endowed a scholarship and served on the college's board of governors from 2002 to 2008. Dear frequently cited his Evergreen education as essential to helping him prepare for career success.
In his honor, Dear’s family will receive the newly created Joe Dear Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by The Evergreen State College at the President’s Recognition Dinner at the college May 13. This award will recognize outstanding achievement among Evergreen alumni.
The April 5 service is open to the community. A reception will follow the event. The family of Joe Dear requests in lieu of flowers that a contribution be made to the Joseph A. Dear Scholarship Endowment.