Rosemary Bourns, for whom UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering is the namesake, passed away on Sept. 26, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to complications from congestive heart failure.
Her family service and interment took place on Saturday, Sept. 29.
She, along with her husband Marlan, started Bourns, Inc., a company specializing in electronic components. At the time of its founding, when it was still Bourns Laboratories, the couple worked out of a single car garage in their Pasadena home.
A personal friend of the family and assistant dean of development of the Bourns College of Engineering, Linda G. Parker, recalled the dynamic of the couple. “Rosemary was the business side. She kept everything on track and she was a true partner in the whole business,” Parker stated.
Before partnering with Marlan, Rosemary graduated from the University of Michigan. She majored in education and minored in anthropology, graduating second in her class according to the Bourns company Intranet.
The relationship between the Bourns and UCR was established in 1994, when the Bourns family contributed $6 million in revenue to the college of engineering. They would later go on to contribute a million more.
“I think that’s what was really smart—is to invest in the brainpower that can really move your company forward. They knew what existed at this university and they were willing to invest in it,” stated Parker.
Dean of Bourns College of Engineering, Reza Abbaschian, also shared what he felt the contribution meant to UCR. “The legacy that the family has, is of course, being so generous,”
Abbaschian said. “What they did [for] this college—it’s a fantastic thing that they did…I think their contribution to this college is really what set this college at a kind of, dynamic growth mode. Even though [Bourns College of Engineering] is only 22-years-old we are highly ranked for a young college. We have great recognition because of the kind of gifts that they gave. It encouraged the college to do things differently. We had the resources to help the students in their education.”
After the initial donation, the family remained involved at UCR. Today, Marlan and Rosemary Bourns’ son, Gordon Bourns, is a member of the Council of Advisors for the engineering college. He is also the CEO and Chairman of Bourns, Inc. The company, which started out modestly, has branched out to other countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and China.
Rosemary was described by people who knew her and the family as someone was easy to talk to and always in a good mood.
According to the company Intranet, she had three passions: “traveling, telling stories and arranging flowers.”
“She was a very engaged person, and of course, she was a quite accomplished person,” stated Abbaschian.
“She was always so upbeat,” stated Parker. Parker also explained how the family, collectively is known as “g.l.a.d.” (an acronym for each of their children: Gordon, Linda, Anita and Denise). “They’re always like that; they’re always glad and happy.”