George Pepperdine, was born in 1886 in Kansas. He attended Professor Olson’s Business College in 1905 and became a bookkeeper for the local gas company and for a local plumber. In 1909 George moved to Kansas City, MO, where he founded the Western Auto stores at the age of 23 with an initial investment of $5. In 1920 he moved to Los Angeles. Before selling his highly successful chain to Sears Roebuck, he had over 6000 stores nationwide.
A lifelong member of the church of Christ, he always saw himself as a steward and caretaker of the assets that God entrusted him with. In 1937, alarmed at the high rate of church dropouts after Christian young people attended public colleges, he dedicated his fortune to creating George Pepperdine College. Pepperdine University (as it is now) is in Malibu, CA, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and has nearly 8000 students.
On opening day of his little college back in 1937 in Los Angeles, he had only one building and housed the students at a nearby hotel. On opening day he addressed the first students and faculty:
There are many good colleges and universities which can give you standard academic training, but if our school does not give you more than that, it really has no reason to exist. The great difference between this college and other colleges is that we are endeavoring to place adequate emphasis and greater stress upon religious teaching and Christian character. We want to present to you, in teaching and example, the Christian way of life. We do not compel you to accept it. You are free to make your own choice, but we want you to know what it is.
His motto for the college was and still is “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
In 1959 he wrote his biography, Faith Is My Fortune” which was very popular reading. He died in 1962.