The Packard family and the biologists are always mentioned in the tale of how the Monterey Bay Aquarium came to be built. But sometimes the tequila gets lost in the plot.

"As so many things do, the story changes in the telling, and even the four of us who were there don''t agree on every detail of every item," says Steve Webster, the Aquarium''s senior marine biologist. "It is true---pitchers of margaritas were involved."

It was an evening in 1976, and Webster, along with Chuck Baxter, Nancy Burnett and husband Robin Burnett--who all worked as marine biologists at Stanford''s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove--were brainstorming at the Burnett''s Carmel Valley home. They were considering a challenge from Nancy''s father, the Silicon Valley titan David Packard.

Packard had directed his children to come up with an idea for a family project. In response, Nancy and her biologist colleagues had already decided to try and do something with the dilapidated Knut Hovden''s Cannery in Monterey.

"We were in the Burnett''s living room," Webster recalls. "We were all discussing what might be done with that property when someone said the word ''aquarium.'' We''re not sure who."

Robin Burnett wrote up a proposal to turn the rundown building, located between the Hopkins Marine Station and Cannery Row, into a public aquarium. He sent the idea to David Packard and his wife, Lucile. Julie Packard, Nancy Burnett''s sister, herself a marine biologist, quickly jumped on board.

"We weren''t thinking of nearly the scope that the aquarium opened at," Webster says. "We were thinking of remodeling a little, and inviting people in to see some fishes and invertebrates."

Alas, they found out that the old cannery was held together by rust, and the building had to be torn down. They decided to start from scratch and erect a brand-new structure. When they were finished, they had built a $55 million state-of-the-art facility.

A report in 1977 suggested that an aquarium on the site might attract 350,000 visitors the first year. "The feasibility study missed," Webster says. In the first year after the aquarium doors opened on Oct. 20, 1984, 2.1 million visitors came. The Aquarium quickly became the crown jewell of Cannery Row, and over the past seven years it has helped to reinvigorate tourism in the neighborhood and helped the city of Monterey maintain its status as a world-class destination.

The beautiful new aquarium was, at the time, the biggest gift to the community from David and Lucile Packard, and it is still the most visible. Working mostly behind the scenes over the past three decades or more, the couple and their foundation have created a multi-million-dollar legacy in Monterey County.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, based in Palo Alto, which the couple established in 1964, has grown to be the largest private foundation awarding grants in the state of California, and the fourth-largest in the U.S. It is by far the biggest source of grants in Monterey County--in 2001 alone, the Foundation awarded more than $12 million in grants in the county, in addition to $36 million for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

Nancy Burnett and Julie Packard, both of whom worked in Moss Landing and lived in Carmel Valley and Pacific Grove as adults, helped turn David and Lucile''s attention and money to the Central Coast.

"Not just because we lived here, but because it was clear that the Monterey Bay philanthropic needs here were operating on a much smaller scale [compared to San Francisco and Silicon Valley]," says Julie, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and chair of the Foundation''s Conservation Program Committee. "There were big needs here and not so many donors."

Over the years, Packard money has pumped through numerous local agencies and groups, from CSU Monterey Bay to local school districts, from Natividad Hospital to the Big Sur Land Trust, from the Monterey Symphony to the Carmel Bach Festival and Pacific Repertory Theatre.

Stephen Moorer, founder and artistic director of Pac Rep, a 20-year grant recipient, jokes that there would be no Monterey County without the Packard''s help.

"We might as well hang a sign, ''Welcome to Monterey County, sponsored in part by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation,''" he says.

An Eye and an Earmark on the Future

The Packard Foundation''s bylaws direct its money toward specific areas, from conservation, population and science to children, families and communities. The arts are another important focus. And a unique "organizational effectiveness" category helps support the other philanthropic goals.

Julie Packard says that while the Packard Foundation supports a wide range of issues, all of the Foundation''s focus areas are connected.

"The population program is an essential investment, especially the global focus and the work to cut down global population growth," Julie explains. "No amount of conservation work alone is going to protect what needs to be protected.

"The focus on the well-being of children, families and communities is also essential towards building a positive, long-term future for the environment. Without the basic, underlying services to provide for healthy families, there really isn''t much chance for a positive future for our communities or the environment."

The science category--under which the Aquarium falls--serves kids, too, introducing them to the ocean at an early age.

Carol Larson, the foundation''s vice president and director of programs, agrees that there''s a common thread tying all the groups together. She says the organizations receiving Packard funds all attempt to answer one big question: How do we, through our conservation and our population programs and our science programs, work on preserving the earth''s resources for future generations?

"And, of course," says Larson, "our programs for the community, children and the arts are really about making a better place for the future inhabitants of the world."

The Foundation gives its largest chunk of money to fund conservation programs. The total outlay of conservation money this year is expected to total more than $60 million. A huge portion of the eco-friendly grants go to the Conserving California Landscapes Initiative (CCLI), which in 2000 marked the midpoint of a five-year, $175 million campaign.

The CCLI''s objective is to secure open space, farmland and wildlife habitat in target regions of the Central Coast, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada. Early last year, the program exceeded by more than 30 percent its original goal of conserving 250,000 acres, while leveraging $244 million from other philanthropic and private sources of funding.

Since 1998, in Monterey County, the Packard Foundation has funded the acquisition and conservation of more than 300 acres in Elkhorn Slough and 2,400 acres in Big Sur. The Foundation is also in the process of buying more than 3,400 acres of ag land in the Salinas Valley.

This place would look like a whole different county without the Packard''s commitment to open space, says Gary Patton, executive director of LandWatch Monterey County.

"Ten years out, you might not notice much difference," Patton says. "But 30 years from now, you would be seeing hotels on the beach, and all sorts of defacement along the Big Sur coastline. Looking back at it 50 years from now, you would say it made all the difference in the world."

Patton''s full-time position as executive director was, in fact, made possible by a 1998 grant. "I would not be here if it wasn''t for the Packard Foundation," he says simply.

Patton points out that the Foundation does conservation work that is even more important than buying up open space. Packard also gives money to groups that work to educate the community about political issues such as land-use planning.

"It''s really easy if you have the money to buy big, beautiful pieces of land," he says. "But there are not that many foundations that will invest in organizations that are really getting people involved-because these are often controversial issues."

LandWatch is currently operating on a two-year, $350,000 grant specifically focused on educating county residents about the General Plan. "What [Packard] has found out, with LandWatch at least, is that if you can find a way to get people involved at the local level, that effect on conservation over the long run, that is the best guarantee--probably even more important than buying up specific properties."

He doesn''t expect Packard money to run out anytime soon, but "if our income goes down, we''ll have to live within that income," he says.

Good Money

Marcia McNutt, president and CEO of MBARI, a $20-million cutting-edge ocea-nographic facility in Moss Landing, credits the Packards with making the Monterey Bay area a world center for ma- rine research.

"If you look at the concentration of institutions around the Monterey Bay that are research-focused," McNutt says, "the strength of those institutions is generally influenced by the Packard family."

She rattles off a list of new facilities supported by Packard money surrounding the Monterey Bay: UC Santa Cruz''s Ocean Health Center, the Moss Landing Marine Labs, MBARI and the aquarium.

MBARI receives about 90 percent of its total budget annually from the Packard Foundation--$36 million this year-supporting general operations and ongoing research projects. David Packard saw the institution as a marriage of hard science and engineering, united to solve mysteries of the ocean. MBARI''s got David''s fingerprints all over it, McNutt says.

"One hundred percent of the people in this institution are committed to achieving David Packard''s vision for this institution. He is held in the highest regard here as a true visionary, and whatever we do, we always ask ourselves, ''Is this what he had in mind for this place?''"

For example, Packard recognized that technology for exploring the ocean depths in excess of 600 meters had not advanced much since the 1960s. MBARI''s job was to apply three new areas of technology to explore the deep: remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), advanced instrumentation and computers.

"The way research happens at MBARI," McNutt says, "[is] you begin with scientists saying ''Here''s a first-class problem, now we need the technical tools to solve it.'' Then the engineers come in and say, ''Here are new technologies at or beyond the horizon, and no one has taken the next step to make them viable to use under the sea.''"

McNutt excitedly describes how the same type of technology used to determine paternity can also be used under the water to determine what kinds of organisms are living in the bay.

"Many people now look at Monterey Bay as becoming one of the best understood coastal marine systems. Thanks to Packard investments, the growth and strength of the [oceanography] institutions here is a magnet to others."

The Packard Foundation is driven not only by David Packard''s passion for science, but also by Lucile Packard''s passion for helping kids. The Foundation''s Children, Families and Communities program has granted $1.3 million to Monterey County thus far in 2001. These funds shape policies and direct services aimed at local kids, such as a $5,000 radio campaign to enroll children in subsidized health insurance programs, and a $100,000 grant to relocate buildings to house child-care centers for the county office of education''s Migrant Ed. Program.

The Foundation also funded a $125,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey, a $1 million, three-year infrastructure grant to Partners for Peace, and a $1.5 million three-year grant for general support to Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which has clinics in Monterey County.

Jane Parker of Planned Parenthood is grateful that Packard Foundation money doesn''t come with a lot of strings atta-ched telling the organization how to spend every nickel.

"This money can go wherever it''s needed," from office or medical supplies to programs, she says. "One of the things that having this operating money does is really give us a springboard to develop pilot programs."

Almost every local arts organization in Monterey County has counted on Packard grants at one time or another to fund operating expenses, salary support, educational programs and capital campaigns. Indeed, Pacific Repertory Theatre, Ariel Theatrical, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Mon- terey Symphony, the Steinbeck Center and the Community Foundation''s Arts Initiative--just to name a few--wouldn''t be nearly as successful if the Packards hadn''t lent a hand.

Ariel Theatrical''s executive director, Susan Brown, wouldn''t be conducting an interview in her organization''s new building if it wasn''t for a $100,000, two-to-one matching grant that the group receives from Packard, along with annual operating funds.

"We reach people who wouldn''t necessarily feel comfortable coming to any kind of art facility," Brown says from her office in Old Town Salinas.

Pacific Repertory Theatre has counted on Packard for everything from a small $4,000 start-up grant for TheatreFest, a free community outreach program, to $300,000 to renovate the historic Golden Bough Playhouse in Carmel, as well as operating grants to fund the day-to-day chores that allow the show to go on.

"Packard is one of the few that will give general operating grants--it''s hard to get people to give you money to pay your phone bill or your PG&E bill," Pac Rep''s Moorer says. "So to get a general operating grant, that''s like gold. And Packard understands that."

20-20 Visionary

"The betterment of our society is not a job to be left to a few; it is a responsibility to be shared by all," writes David Packard in his autobiography, The HP Way.

The 1995 bestseller tells the story of how a Depression-era boy from Pueblo, Colo., who liked to hike and catch fish and occasionally blow up things, helped give birth to Silicon Valley, inspired icons such as Microsoft''s Bill Gates and Apple''s Steve Jobs, served in the Nixon administration''s cabinet, and gave billions of dollars to charity.

The story begins with Dave''s early interest in science and electronics, revealed in hours curled up with the family World Book Encyclopedia and a keen interest in radio. "I recall my first vacuum tube," he writes--surely a phrase uttered by few.

At Stanford University, he studied radio engineering and met fellow student Bill Hewlett. On a hiking trip in Colorado, the two made a pact that they would go into business together. Of course they did, and the company that they built helped create a new economy and made Packard one of the richest men in the world.

Family, community and the great outdoors have continually played a major role in the Packard family philanthropy. Years after building Silicon Valley''s technology behemoth, Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett together gave their alma mater more than $300 million.

Lucile Packard, who had worked as secretary and bookkeeper at H-P for its first several years, became a dedicated volunteer to children''s causes. Lucile was the president of the Palo Alto-based Children''s Health Council from 1964 to 1966, and worked closely with the Stanford Convalescent Home, which treated children with tuberculosis. In 1986, the Packards donated $40 million to build the Lucile Salter Packard Children''s Hospital.

Dave went about his business and his philanthropy quietly and humbly. His sense of integrity, respect and compassion for individuals and their capabilities formed the basis for his management approach, known as "the H-P Way," says Julie.

"My father was a very compassionate person, always willing to listen to needs and ideas of people from any walk of life, both in his business life and his philanthropic life," she remembers. "He really believed in the importance of contributions by individuals."

H-P''s business objectives included, in Dave Packard''s words: "meeting the obligations of good citizenship by making contributions to the community and to the institutions in our society which generate the environment in which we operate." A belief in philanthropy was an original tenet of the HP Way, and one that he passed on to his son and three daughters, to the Foundation and to the employees of Hewlett-Packard.

He was well known for wearing casual clothes inside his Spartan office building and driving himself to work in an old station wagon, and also for pioneering flexible work hours, corporate medical coverage and open offices. Even as HP expanded to more than 100,000 workers, "Big Dave" sought to maintain a small-company atmosphere--although by the 1960s, the company grew too large for Lucile to continue her practice of buying a wedding gift for every employee who married and a baby blanket for every family having a baby.

David Packard believed the bosses should remain close to workers. He frequented H-P''s hallways to the point that employees jokingly awarded him an honorary degree of M.B.W.A., "Master of Management By Walking Around."

As deputy secretary of defense from 1969 to 1972 under the first Nixon administration, however, Packard found little support at the Pentagon for his management style. "Working with the Washington bureaucracy was like pushing on one end of a 40-foot rope and trying to get the other end to do what you want," wrote the lifelong GOP member in his autobiography.

He found more success at the Aquarium, says Steve Webster, who remembers the day Dave came in to look at the newly designed tide pool exhibit. Parallel to that exhibit was an exhibit of the Monterey Bay shoreline, from the surf and sandy beach to Elkhorn Slough.

"Dave said, ''That''s fine, but where are the birds?''" Webster remembers. "He said, ''You need birds.'' None of us had even considered birds, we were all fish and invertebrates and seaweed people. And it turns out the aviary is one of the most popular exhibits at the aquarium. We didn''t think of it, but he did."

Stock Swoon Hurts Non-Profits

As H-P stocks go, so goes the Packard Foundation. And so go the local groups that depend on Packard money.

The Packard Foundation''s en-dowment is made up of 200 million shares of Hewlett-Packard stock and 38 million shares of spin-off Agilent Technologies stock. The value of that stock has plunged from $13 billion in September 2000 to $5 billion today, according to Chief Financial Officer George Vera.

In April 2000, Hewlett-Packard stock was selling for $156 a share. By Oct. 17 the price had dropped to $18.01.

As a result, the dozens of area nonprofit groups that rely on Packard Foundation money are divvying up slices of a smaller pie--almost one-fourth of the foundation''s budget has been eliminated. In 2000, the Packard Foundation paid out more than $616 million. By the end of this year, it expects to give $475 million.

By law, a foundation must give away at least 5 percent of its endowment''s earnings annually. That is how the Packard Foundation has always operated. However, to make up for the stocks'' plunge in value, Packard has increased its annual awards to 7 percent of its endowment.

Vera estimates the 2001 endowment will be worth around $7.5 billion.

"It was at $9.7 billion at the beginning of the year, it''s $5 billion now, so for planning purposes, we''re saying somewhere around $7.5 billion at the end of the year."

Based on 7 percent of a $7.5 billion endowment, Vera expects the Foundation to award $525 million, and pay out $475 million this year.

"Often times that award might be a multi-year grant, and we will pay some this year, and some next year," Vera explains.

He says the Foundation plans to up the payout percentage again in 2002 to 8 percent. Julie Packard says she''s hopeful that the foundation''s work will not be too severely interrupted.

"How [the cuts] will affect the orga-nizations we''ve been supporting will depend on the types of projects that they will be seeking support for," Packard says. "We''ll be less flexible to consider big, new initiatives and major capital campaigns. But certainly the Board remains very committed to the organizations that have depended on us for ongoing support."

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Center (MBARI) expects to feel the economic pinch, says MBARI President and CEO Marcia McNutt. She says she will try to find additional funding elsewhere for a $10 million project to install a "cable observatory" in the Monterey Bay, which will provide data communications to off- shore seismometers to measure seismic activity.

Planned Parenthood, another recipient of Packard Foundation support, operates on a grant that won''t run out until 2004. Director Jane Parker says she remains confident that the funding stream won''t dry up. "We have found that our core donors are very supportive and recognize the need for men and women and teens to get really good reproductive care," she says.

The Pacific Repertory Theater is in the middle of a two-year, $150,000 grant. Stephen Moorer describes the grant as "a godsend to us." Pac Rep won''t need to cut any programs or services in the next year, Moorer says. "I''m sure [Packard] has got enough to weather a storm. But how long of a storm? That''s anyone''s guess."

--Jessica Lyons

Top10

Packard Foundation Grant Recipients in Monterey County from 1996-2001

1) MBARI:

$148,829,033

2) Monterey Bay Aquarium:

$24,696,113

3) Elkhorn Slough Foundation:

$6,065,000

4) Monterey County Agricultural & Historical Land Conservancy:

$5,158,469

5) Big Sur Land Trust:

$3,091,000

6A) Carmel-by-the-Sea Sunset Center for the Arts:

$3,000,000

6B) York School:

$3,000,000

7) Foundation of CSUMB:

$2,760,748

8) Sea Studios Foundation:

$2,000,000

9) Planned Parenthood Mar Monte:

$1,500,000

10) Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County:

$1,325,000

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.