Donald R. Diamond, influential Tucson land developer and businessman as well as prominent philanthropist, died Monday March 25 2019. He was 91.
Over more than 50 years in real estate here, Diamond became a large, if not the largest, private land owner in Pima County and one of the most influential private-sector businesspeople and deal-makers in Arizona.
Diamond was born in New York and first became enamored with Tucson when he attended the Brandes School, a boarding school on the north side. He returned to the East Coast for high school in Washington, D.C., served in the U.S. Army infantry during World War II and attended the University of Arizona from 1947 to 1949.
At the UA, he met friends and business partners of 50-plus years, such as attorney Donald Pitt and developer Jack Gumbin, who died in 2015.
It was also at the UA that he met Joan Brown from Des Moines, Iowa — he was a business major and Joan was majoring in voice and piano. The two were married Nov. 29, 1952. Joan Diamond died Dec. 28, 2016.
The young couple moved to New York, and Diamond went to work for the largest commodities business in the country, ACLI International, where his father, Nathan Diamond, was a partner. He retired from Wall Street at age 37.
In August 1965, the Diamonds and their daughters Helaine, Jennifer and Deanne moved to Tucson. Diamond thought he could retire but he needed a challenge. A friend suggested he give real estate a try.
Diamond bought, sold and developed large, raw tracts of land, like 12,700 acres of the Howard Hughes Estate properties. He established Diamond Ventures in 1988 to expand acquisition activities and to add management and development capabilities.
Diamond was national co-chairman of the finance committee for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.
In addition to Levy, Diamond is survived by his eldest daughter, Jennifer Diamond, ordained as a reform rabbi, who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho; and grandchildren: Nathan, who is with Diamond Ventures in Denver; Carly, who is working on her MBA in sports business management at the University of Alabama; and Gabby, a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans. His sister, Joyce Eskwitt of New York, also survives him.