Irwin Molasky, ’45: A Lifetime of Dreams Realized, Thanks in Part to Riverside
by Amanda K. Griffin, CFRE
Irwin Molasky, a 1945 Riverside Graduate, credits the principles and discipline instilled upon him in the blue ridge mountains of Georgia for his success in a long and varied career that spans real estate development, film and television entertainment, hospitality, advertising and professional sports.
Considered one of the most prolific real estate developers in the country, the majority of Molasky’s work can be found in California and Las Vegas, Nevada, his hometown since 1951. His mark can be found in all aspects of design and development from residential to office buildings, malls and shopping centers, commercial, healthcare, aviation, hospitality, multifamily and mixed use.
He and his business partner Merv Adelson were responsible for the city’s first private hospital, the 688-bed Sunrise Hospital Surgical Center and Medical Center; Paradise Palms, the area’s first master-planned community, which captured national honors; seven golf courses and their surrounding communities; many thousands of apartment communities; the first high-rise office building in downtown Las Vegas, Bank of America Plaza; and the design and development of the state’s first and largest enclosed shopping mall, the 1,350,000 -square-foot Boulevard Mall. In addition, Molasky brought to Nevada many new nationally known retailers such as Sears, Broadway Department Stores, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble.
“I had a very happy home life, but I wanted to learn and have a better education. I also wanted to learn leadership qualities, though I didn’t know to call it that back then”, said Molasky.
Every year the young Molasky eagerly returned to school and became the valedictorian, historian and president of the Horton Society. He spent five years at Riverside before graduating in 1945.
Following Riverside, Molasky had an honor graduate appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, but instead spent one year at Ohio State before moving to Southern California to construct buildings. He built his first five-unit apartment complex in California when he was 18. He also served in the Army in the Field Artillery. He then moved to Las Vegas in 1951 to take advantage of other construction opportunities; the population was 25,000, and three-party phone lines were in use. Today the population is 2,000,000.
A true leader, Molasky and Adelson were key figures in the development of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, through a donation of 45 prime acres of land. In 1981, Molasky formed and became the founding chairman of the UNLV Foundation, which raised more than $700 million to provide student and faculty support.
When Adelson’s father, Nathan Adelson, died after a difficult fight with cancer, Molasky and Adelson investigated a program in England where people were taught how to live their last years with dignity. The Nathan Adelson Hospice was created to serve the terminally ill, regardless of their ability to pay. The hospice takes care of more than 500 patients per day, and Molasky continues to serve on it’s board of directors.
Molasky was a co-founder and served an an officer for the board of directors of Lorimar Entertainment, a conglomerate of television, broadcasting, and print media. Lorimar is perhaps best known for the hit television shows “The Walton’s,” “Dallas” and “Knots Landing” as well as the Academy Award-winning motion pictures “An Officer and A Gentleman” and “Being There.”
Around the same time period, he and his business partners owned one of the largest advertising agencies in the country, Bozell Jacobs Kenyon and Eckard, and shaped the brands Chrysler and American Airlines.
His love of race horses took him into the world of professional sports. Thanks to many champions like Kona Gold, the world’s fastest sprinter and winner of the 2000 Breeder’s Cup in record time at Churchill Downs, Molasky has walked into the winners circle many times.
Molasky and his partners designed and built the world famous LaCosta Hotel and Spa on 6,000 acres of land in San Diego. Its golf courses were the sponsor to one of golf’s most prestigious competitions, The Tournament of Champions.
Today, Molasky, 84, works daily from the 17th floor of the prominent Molasky Corporate Center, Las Vegas’ first and largest LEED certified Gold building. In the past three years, the company has focused on building federal projects nationwide. Their most recent building dedication was in St. Louis, Missouri. The National Personnel & Records Center for the National Archives houses all military records, from George Patton to Elvis Presley to present military personnel. Current construction projects include four field offices for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Portland, Cincinnati, Minneapolis and San Diego.
Molasky’s first loves are his wife, Susan, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and his passion for them is evidenced by framed photos throughout his office. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows in his office he can see the entire city that he has called home for 60 years, but he credits Riverside with building his life as a man.
“I owe my demeanor and whatever good qualities I have to Riverside,” stated Molasky, who has been quoted as saying about his military school education, “It made me independent.”
“I think fondly of Riverside; it taught me to think on my feet,” said Molasky.