Don Diamond, Tucson’s largest local land developer and philanthropist passed away Monday at the age of 91, leaving behind a priceless legacy in Pima County.
Diamond is survived by his eldest daughter Jennifer Diamond, ordained as a reform rabbi, who lives in Sun Valley, Idaho; his daughter Helaine Levy 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.
His wife Joan preceded Don’s passing on December 28, 2016, after being married for 64 years.
Well-known philanthropists, in 2010, Don and his wife Joan, donated $15 million to build Diamond’s Children’s Hospital, as part of a $184 million medical center expansion at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson. This is but a sampling of Diamond’s widespread generosity and philanthropic work throughout our community.
Born in New York, Don first came to Tucson in the 1940s as a student of the Brandes Boarding School that was located where Best Buy stands today, across from the Park Place Mall.
He left and later returned to attend the University of Arizona after finishing high school on the East Coast and serving in the U.S. Army Infantry during WW II.
He attended the University of Arizona from 1947 to 1949, where he met his friends and business partners of 50-plus years as well as the love of his life, his wife Joan. The young couple then returned to New York where Don worked as a commodities dealer.
In 1965, at the age of 37, Don retired from Wall Street and returned to Tucson with Joan and their three daughters: Helaine, Jennifer and Deanne.
Too young to truly retire, Don soon became the largest private land owner in Pima County, he loved Tucson and bought whatever land he could. There wasn’t much competition for land back in the ‘60s. But he saw the potential and had a vision to the future.
Upon news of his passing, Gov. Ducey issued the following statement Monday:
“Arizona is saddened by the loss of Don Diamond. Genuine, generous, and respected by all, Don displayed a deep love for Arizona and commitment to Tucson dating back to his earliest days. Through his business and real-estate career, Don — possibly more than anyone else —helped develop Arizona’s metropolitan areas into the growing cities they are today. He will also be remembered for his extensive philanthropic efforts, which included supporting causes such as promoting higher education, expanding access to children’s healthcare, and protecting natural habitats. No doubt, Don’s legacy will have a lasting impact on Arizona for many years to come. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the entire Diamond family during this difficult time.”
Diamond Venture was established in 1988 to expand Don’s land acquisitions and add management and development services. The company continues operations with about 20 employees. Late last year DVI Venture Capital was added.