Gary Verboon ‘78: Taking Stock of Life

by Maureen Riegert ‘90

Less than 25 years after graduation from Azusa Pacific, Gary Verboon '78, who hails from Calgary, Canada, has earned a distinguished reputation as one of the nation's foremost class-action attorneys. Not only has this self-made millionaire literally written the book on construction defect litigation used by lawyers and judges around the country, but he also runs a prestigious West Los Angeles law firm and serves as CEO of four other enterprises, including aviation and children's cosmetics companies.

One quickly discovers that many of these pursuits have arisen from his sincere desire to assist those in need. Whether it is as a lawyer representing homeowners and taking on Fortune 500 developers or as the marketer of organically based products, Verboon's motivation is not money, although he would be the first to admit that his work has yielded financial rewards. Rather, he and his wife of 13 years, Thereza, a Brazilian attorney, seek out opportunities that enable them to promote environmentalism, stewardship, children's causes, and education.

Even his latest endeavor reflects this commitment. Acquired just three years ago, the Verboons did not intend to purchase Rancho Arroyo Grande, a 4,000-acre, original Spanish land-grant ranch located on the central coast of California. However, the two were immediately taken by its breathtaking beauty and tremendous potential. Now both are totally immersed in restoring this former mission outpost to its historic roots and moving toward commercial production of the on-site vineyard. "I wake up every morning overwhelmed by God's grace. My family has been entrusted with incredible resources to manage for the glory of His Kingdom," said Verboon. "When you truly understand the concept of stewardship, then you are directed to do things naturally."

This philosophy explains the ranch restoration project, which draws heavily upon a local quarry for the materials to rebuild the structure and the use of dry farming techniques in the vineyard rather than cheaper methods. Although costly, such a profound sense of environmental responsibility also reaps better quality harvests, and eventually, higher dividends. "Being sensitive to nature honors God and is worth the investment," said Verboon.

But every business achievement pales in comparison to the couple's most important undertaking: parenthood. Their 18-month-old son, Ian, is the light of his parents' lives. "My son was born when I was 41. What a joy to have him later in life and have the time to focus on being good parents," said Verboon. "Everything else becomes incidental." Like most parents, Verboon wants his son to grow up knowing that he is loved for who he is and with a strong self-image and self-worth. "I want Ian to be free to be all he dreams of being. And one day, I hope he will be able to say, 'My dad really listened to me. He heard what I had to say, and I respect him.'"

Perhaps it was that watershed moment when Verboon became a father or when he reflected upon his own college experience, which he asserts provided much needed structure and an excellent environment for intellectual and spiritual growth, that led him and his wife to give Azusa Pacific one of the single largest alumni donations in the school's century-long history: more than a $100,000 stock gift. "I believe in APU's mission and purpose. The university made a significant impact on my life and continues to do so in the lives of thousands. This was an easy decision to make," said Verboon. "Our money is going toward two issues Thereza and I are committed to-education and youth."

And now he is eager to challenge other alumni. "This is an institution to be proud of, and APU deserves a higher level of alumni support. I invite other alums to stand behind this university by helping to match or exceed my gift each year."