Monday, Jun. 7, 2010 11:30 am


GRINNELL, IA— Grinnell College dedicated its new $90-million recreation and athletic center Saturday and named the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center for the late alumnus, trustee, and publishing executive Charles Bear.

Bequests of more than $10 million from the estates of Bear and his partner, A. John Gambers, supported the construction of a natatorium and fieldhouse in the two-part state-of-the-art center begun in 2003. The bequests are among the largest combined gift distributions in the college’s history.

Bear worked throughout his 40-year publishing career for Time-Life International, holding several executive positions and retiring in 1984 as group vice-president, secretary, and director of Time Inc. A former member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, he also served as chair of the board of Major League Baseball Properties and consultant to the commissioner of baseball.

The Grinnell College Board of Trustees, which Bear served from 1970 until his death in 2007, approved use of the unrestricted bequests for the new recreation and athletic center, recognizing Bear’s career and sports interests.

“Charley Bear was a warm, modest man of great professional accomplishment, who served Grinnell faithfully as a trustee and tireless admission volunteer in the New York City area,” said Grinnell President Russell K. Osgood. “We are humbled by Charley’s and John’s generosity and pleased to be able to honor their legacy in a way that supports Grinnell’s values to educate and prepare students for lives of wellness and physical fitness. This outstanding facility is among the best in Division III recreation and athletics.”

The Bear Recreation and Athletic Center, designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli and Sasaki Associates, seamlessly connects first- and second-phase construction projects underground. The first phase of the center, completed in 2005, includes 1,250-seat Darby Gymnasium, home of the Pioneer men’s and women’s basketball teams and volleyball team; an auxiliary practice gymnasium; and a fitness center.

The soon-to-be completed second phase includes the 500-seat natatorium with 50-meter pool and movable bulkheads and the six-lane 200-meter fieldhouse with seating for 400. The entire Bear Center is expected to join Grinnell’s growing list of LEED certified buildings.

Grinnell enrolls 1,600 students, and nearly one-third participate in 20 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past six years, Grinnell has led the Midwest Conference in Academic All-Conference honorees. More information about Grinnell recreation and athletics is available at