CalPERS CIO Dear passes away

Joe Dear, one of private equity’s most respected investors, has died after a fight with cancer.

Chief investment officer at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Joe Dear, has passed away following a battle with prostate cancer, according to a CalPERS statement released Wednesday evening Pacific Standard Time.

Dear, who was born in 1951, had temporarily stepped back from his role at the institution since June last year to receive treatment. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Theodore Eliopoulos, CalPERS’ senior investment officer for real assets, took over as acting chief investment officer for day-to-day operations in June. Eliopoulos will now continue in the role until the board makes announcements about a search for a new chief investment officer.

“Words cannot express the loss that the CalPERS family feels at this time,” the statement said.

“Joe was an invaluable member of the CalPERS executive team, an incredible leader of the investment office and a good friend to all those who knew and worked closely with him. We will miss Joe, his passion for excellence in performance and his sharp wit and humor.”

Dear joined CalPERS in 2009 from the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB), where he had worked as executive director since 2002.

CalPERS hired him as financial markets globally were crashing – an event that caused the pension plan to lose roughly one-fourth of the value of its portfolio assets, the statement said. Dear not only managed to recoup all its financial losses, but drove CalPERS’ portfolio to reach new heights of more than $283 billion in assets under management.

Under his leadership, CalPERS also restructured the way it managed private equity relationships, creating a risk management office and a whistleblower hotline. It instituted rigorous travel and gift guidelines for staffers and prohibited firms that serve as investment consultants from also managing money for the system.

Perhaps more than anything else, CalPERS, under Dear's leadership, has become the benchmark LP, exerting powerful leverage in negotiating terms and conditions and helping, through its influence, to shift the balance of power from the GP to the LP, Private Equity International reported earlier. Dear managed to secure millions of dollars in fee breaks from various managers, including Apollo Global Management.

Details on services are pending, CalPERS said. There will be services in Sacramento, CA, and Olympia, WA. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be directed to the Joseph A. Dear Memorial Scholarship Endowment at The Evergreen State College Foundation.

“Joe was born in 1951 in Washington, D.C., but fell in love with the Pacific Northwest during his time at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. It was there he cultivated his passion for both the Cascade Mountains and for making government work better through innovative public policy and sheer force of will,” CalPERS wrote.