From The Office of The President of Chapman University ~ Daniele C. Struppa, Ph.D
It is with great sadness that I announce the loss of a great friend of Chapman University: Zelma “Zee” Allred. Zee, who had served Chapman University as a trustee for more than three decades, passed away on January 30, 2023. Zee was appointed to Chapman’s Board of Trustees in 1989 and helped secure the tremendous success that Chapman experienced as it grew from a respected small liberal arts college to a nationally ranked research university.
Zee was an individual of incomparable integrity, foresight, and business acumen. If I had to describe her in a single word, I, and many others, would say “entrepreneur.” With a $500 loan, she was able to create a multimillion-dollar company, Pool Water Products, that employs hundreds of people and serves communities across the nation.
In addition to being the cofounder and CEO of Pool Water Products, she was an equal partner in Pentagon A Investments, a real estate leasing company, and an equal partner in Aqua Tri, a chemical manufacturing company. Her unwavering commitment to development and incredible entrepreneurial spirit were recognized on multiple occasions by the community at large. The Orange County Business Journal once named her one of the “100 Most Influential People of Orange County,” and in 2014, she received the Life Achievement Award during the Orange County Business Journal’s 20th Annual Women in Business Awards Luncheon.
With her success, Zee found it essential to give back and provide opportunities for growth for other organizations. She served on the boards of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Western Medical Center (now known as Orange County Global Medical Center), Opera Pacific and the National Assistance League, providing guidance and support to organizations that define the well-being of Orange County.
Among the other organizations that have benefitted from Zee’s generosity are the Assessment and Treatment Services Center, UCI Medical Research and Education Society, Bowers Museum, Pacific Symphony, and South Coast Repertory. Whether she was serving on a board to offer her wisdom or providing financial support, she gave freely to foster Orange County’s strength. She was widely regarded as a transformational figure whose business skills and generosity empowered Southern California’s business and nonprofit sectors.
While Zee’s philanthropy was widespread, Chapman was truly fortunate to be one of the focal points of her selfless spirit. She gave major gifts to nearly every corner of our campus, from Chapman Athletics to Beckman Hall, from the Fish Interfaith Center to the Leatherby Libraries. Nonetheless, direct support toward students through scholarships was one of the most consistent avenues of her generosity.
Considering that all proceeds from American Celebration (now Chapman Celebrates) and the Economic Forecast went to student scholarships, it is no surprise that Zee consistently gave to and attended these annual traditions, especially as they aligned with her love of the arts and business. And as she always looked for ways to connect with the Chapman community, especially our Panthers, she was also a faithful and active member of both Women of Chapman and Town & Gown.
Chapman’s President Emeritus and long-time friend, Dr. Jim Doti, said of Zee’s passing, “Zee’s amazing entrepreneurial ability built a business powerhouse. More importantly, she used that success to transform our university and community. What an incredible inspiration she was to me and many others!”
Zee exemplified leadership in all its forms and undeniably saw everyone at Chapman as family. As she was a trustee, donor, loyal member of Chapman support groups and grandparent of Chapman alumni, it is an honor to know that Chapman carries forward her name and legacy on our campus through the Zee Allred Aquatics Center and the Allred Olympic Pool, which is the home to Chapman’s swimming and diving teams as well as our water polo teams.
My heart goes out to her family and I hope they take comfort in knowing that her spirit lives on at Chapman University.