Stanley A. Dashew, the inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who, with his wife, Rita, was instrumental in the founding of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars at UCLA, died April 25 in Los Angeles. He was 96.
Dashew, who worked with Bank of America to develop the nation's first bank credit-card system, was responsible for a variety of inventions over the course of his life, including the Dashaway, a rehabilitative mobility device he said saved his life in later years.
"A true visionary, Stanley Dashew's legacy and contribution to UCLA have greater meaning today than ever before, particularly as our campus and our community become more decidedly global," said UCLA Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Janina Montero. "The resources and programming the Dashew Center provides for students and scholars are proof of our commitment to an international and multicultural campus where all in our community benefit from a rich diversity of cultures and ideas. Stanley Dashew's loss will be deeply mourned by the worldwide Bruin community, but we will also want to celebrate his innovations, legacy and devotion to UCLA."
Former UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale was a close friend of Dashew's.
"Stan Dashew loved and lived life as fully as anyone I've ever known," Carnesale said. "He brought enthusiasm and energy to everything he did, and especially to his engagement with the students, staff and faculty of UCLA. We will miss him."
"Mr. Dashew was a visionary and knew how valuable international students are for the success and livelihood of the UCLA campus," said Shideh Hanassab, director of the Dashew Center at UCLA. "He was passionate about international students' experiences here in the United States, and he touched many international students' lives through his generous and unwavering commitment. The UCLA international community lost an advocate, but his positive memories and contributions will last forever. He will be greatly missed."
In recognition of his dedication to UCLA, Dashew was presented with the UCLA Medal in 2000, the university's highest honor. The medal is given to those whose careers have manifestly benefited the public.
Dashew and his late wife, Rita, worked from the belief that promoting peace between nations begins with strengthening international ties, and to that end, they became active with the International Student Center at UCLA. Dashew went on to serve as president and then chairman of the advisory board of the center, which originally was located off campus.
The Dashews later conceived of the plan to build the Rita and Stanley Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars on campus, and the center was dedicated in 1998 with their generous financial support. The Dashew Center has helped engender close relationships among thousands of UCLA students, American and international. Students from more than 110 countries have benefited from the center's services and have returned to their home countries to become civic, business, educational and artistic leaders.
Born Sept. 16, 1916, in New York City to Russian and Lithuanian parents, Dashew's talent for business surfaced during his early years, when he helped manage his family's rental business and published an underground newspaper with a high school classmate. He left college during the Depression and began a career in marketing and sales.
In 1949, his love of the sea, and new opportunities on the West Coast, led him to sail the world with his first wife, Martha, and two children before settling in Los Angeles. There, he launched Dashew Business Machines, which produced revolutionary imprinters and embossing systems that helped create the BankAmericard (now known as Visa), one of the nation's first bank credit-card systems.
Dashew and his companies played a role in developing other inventions, including a mooring system for offshore oil production and a propulsion device that helps maneuver shipping and military vessels.
Despite health setbacks that included two broken hips and Parkinson's disease, Dashew remained actively engaged in the Dashew Center and regularly hosted students in his home and on his sailboat, the Deerfoot II.
Dashew's autobiography, "You Can Do It: Inspiration and Lessons From an Inventor, Entrepreneur and Sailor," written with Josef S. Klus, was published in 2010. In September 2011, he celebrated his 95th birthday at UCLA's Covel Commons with several hundred friends and international students and scholars. At the event, he helped launch a fundraising campaign tied to his birthday, "$950K by 95," to provide long-term financial support for the center's programs.
In a November 2011 op-ed in the Los Angeles Business Journal, Dashew wrote that at the age of 95, he had "weathered 15 economic recessions, suffered two broken hips, and I'm living with Parkinson's disease." Nevertheless, he said, he had embarked on a new career as a writer, which "I've always wanted to be."
"For me, every day is an opportunity to invent and innovate," he wrote. "I soar happily toward the challenges that await me."
Rita Dashew died in 1994. Stanley Dashew's survivors include his daughter, son, stepson, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.