LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The owner of the Los Angeles Chargers, Alex Spanos, has died at the age of 95, the team announced Tuesday.
“It is with heavy hearts that the Spanos family announces the death of Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of A.G. Spanos Companies and owner of the Chargers NFL Franchise,” according to a family statement. “Alex passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday morning.”
The cause of his death was not immediately disclosed.
Spanos, a successful real estate developer, purchased the San Diego Chargers in 1984. He turned over the day-to-day operations of the Chargers to his oldest son, Dean, in 1994.
The Chargers moved to Los Angeles just ahead of the 2017 season.
“Fiercely loyal, competitive, passionate and loving – that was Alex Spanos,” the statement read.
Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offered his condolences via Twitter.
“Alex Spanos lived the American Dream,” Schwarzenegger wrote. “His incredible story should inspire each and every one of us. As a son of immigrants, he rose from working in his father’s bakery to become a titan of real estate and business.
“But more importantly, he used his money and platform to give back to the world. He was a dear friend and I’ll miss him dearly. My thoughts are with the entire Spanos family.”
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips also offered his condolences. Phillips was a defensive coordinator for the Chargers from 2004 to 2006.
“I still remember Alex Spanos first words to me on my first day in SD, not hello but ‘You boys better get it going’ -my answer ‘Yes Sir,’” Phillips wrote.
Spanos was born on Sept. 28, 1923, in Stockton, one of six children. He pursued an engineering degree at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, but following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Tarpon Springs, Florida. It was there he met his future wife, Faye Papafaklis, who would be by his side for the next 77 years. Once his military service ended in 1946, he returned to Stockton and enrolled at the University of the Pacific where he earned varsity letters in swimming and diving.
Spanos was married to his wife Fay for nearly 70 years. She passed away in August. They had four children, 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. They all survive him.
Read the family’s full statement below:
It is with heavy hearts that the Spanos family announces the death of Alexander Gus Spanos, founder of A.G. Spanos Companies and owner of the Chargers NFL Franchise. Alex passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday morning. He was 95.
From humble beginnings to becoming the top apartment builder across the nation and the owner of an NFL franchise, Alex proved that dreams do come true.
Alex was the embodiment of the American dream and leaves behind a legacy of passion and hard work. Born the son of Greek immigrants in 1923, Alex’s tireless work ethic and fearlessness was instilled in him when at only eight years old, he began working in his father’s bakery before and after school. A tough upbringing coupled with the unshakeable belief that he could accomplish anything he set his mind to drove him to succeed and overcome countless obstacles.
In 1984, Alex fulfilled one of his lifelong goals by purchasing the San Diego Chargers. His intensely competitive nature and passion for sport made him the perfect fit to be a part of the NFL family. One of his most memorable moments was watching the Chargers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to play in Super Bowl XXIX. He was equally passionate about the franchise’s impact off the field, implementing many Chargers’ community outreach programs that exist to this day. The Chargers Community Foundation – which he created and funded – still supports numerous critical causes, individuals in need and organizations supporting the community.
Aside from being a celebrated businessman and generous philanthropist, Alex’s greatest joy and source of pride was his family. His beloved wife Faye, his four children, his 15 grandchildren and his 12 great-grandchildren always came first. Throughout Alex’s life, Faye, his wife of nearly 70 years, was his rock and inspiration. It was Faye’s unconditional love and support that gave him the strength and peace of mind to take risks and pursue his goals unfettered. Together they contributed generously to worthy causes and charities. Hospitals, universities, scholarship funds, youth programs, sports programs, churches, schools – all were recipients of their incredible generosity.
Through it all, Alex never forgot his roots and took immense pride in both his Hellenic heritage and Greek Orthodox faith. It was through that faith he learned compassion and empathy. Whenever he was called upon to help, he always delivered. Passionate about education, helping the underprivileged and enabling those with a dream to better their lives, he took pride in setting an example for others to follow.
Fiercely loyal, competitive, passionate and loving – that was Alex Spanos.
We have no words that can adequately express our sadness with his passing. We will continue to honor his legacy by dedicating ourselves to making a difference in the community and throughout our country.
As Alex would say, “Believe in yourself. There is nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the next few days.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)