More detail on this person: Local leading architect David Ariss dies at 65
David Ariss, a Vietnam War hero who became one of the leading architects of industrial eastern Ontario, died Monday. He was 65.
Ariss, a Chino Hills resident, died after a heart attack and stroke he suffered in November led to a period of declining health, according to his family.
The developer is credited as a hard-driving visionary who developed at the California Commerce Center, the 1,855-acre industrial zone east of Ontario International Airport, and had a hand in the Ontario Mills Mall and Ontario Auto Center.
"He was an unusual guy," said former Ontario councilman Jim Bowman. "He had no patience for complacency."
Ariss was born Nov. 29, 1939, in Toronto, Canada. His family came to the United States when he was 12, settling in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
A gifted athlete, he was a star hurdler and sprinter at Claremont Men's College, now Claremont McKenna College. Among his fellow students was future developer Richard Lewis, who is now president of the Lewis Group of Companies.
Ariss graduated college in 1961 and enlisted in the Marine Corps in September of that year.
He remained in the Marines until 1970, reaching the rank of major and serving in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. He was injured in the war after the helicopter he piloted was shot down, and was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Bronze Star for his service.
"He was a very no-nonsense type of a person, said what he thought. He had a lot of good ideas. He was a tough Marine, I guess, but he also really helped a lot of people," said Katherine Amick, Ariss's daughter.
Ariss loved reading, crossword puzzles, music, sports and his work, Amick said. He thrived on problems and challenges.
She said Ariss started out in commercial real estate and vacant land, working with John D. Lusk and Sons in Irvine and elsewhere in Orange County before coming to the Inland Empire. He did work in the Corona area in the late 1970s and then came to the California Commerce Center in 1984.
Bowman credited Ariss' industrial developments with creating more than 20,000 jobs in the Ontario area.
While Inland Empire economist John Husing could not verify that number, he said Ariss' strategy of building manufacturing and distribution buildings that could later be adapted as offices helped position the West End -- including Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino and Mira Loma -- as a jobs-rich area.
"Really, he was one of the fathers of the strategy that allowed that to be possible," Husing said. "He was a ferocious advocate for his positions."
Ariss eventually created his own business, PIB Realty Advisors and Ariss Realty Advisors. He was a consultant for area cities and developers, including the Lewis Co.
"We called him the pit bull. He was a very determined, forceful person. Certainly not bashful or shy," Richard Lewis said.
Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux credited Ariss with laying the groundwork for much of the development that occurred, industrial and distribution warehousing as well as retail.
"Dave was boisterous and opinionated and very bright and someone who was fun to work with, because you could get into heated friendly exchanges," Devereaux said.
Ariss, who was married and divorced twice, is survived by his sister, Elizabeth McGuire of Chino Hills, by his three children -- Amick of Winter Springs, Fla., David William Ariss, Jr. of Burnsville, N.C., and Dylan William Ariss of Alta Loma -- and by two grandchildren.
Services will include a full military funeral at Riverside National Cemetery, and have yet to be scheduled.
Burial information: Riverside National Cemetery
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 04/14/2021
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