Tributes poured in Tuesday for longtime Chargers owner Alex Spanos who died Tuesday at age 95.
"Laura and I send our condolences to the Spanos family on the death of their beloved patriarch, Alex Spanos," former President George W. Bush said in a statement. "Alex was one of a kind. ... He was a wonderful citizen and friend, and the Bush family will miss him."
Spanos, at one time an avid golfer, counted among his friends Bob Hope, Gerald Ford and many prominent politicians.
Hope sometimes attended Chargers home games, sitting in Spanos' box at the stadium in Mission Valley.
Born in Stockton on Sept. 28, 1923, Spanos took an unlikely road to NFL ownership. After working in his father's bakery and serving in the Air Force during World War II, Spanos borrowed $800 from a banker to buy a truck from which he sold sandwiches to migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley. He began investing in real estate and started a construction company that mostly built apartment buildings, eventually expanding its footprint across the Sunbelt and Midwest.
Spanos and his wife were generous philanthropists, giving to many causes related to hospitals, universities and youth programs. He gave extensively to the University of the Pacific, his alma mater in Stockton, where the Alex G. Spanos Center houses the Tigers' basketball and volleyball teams.
"Alex Spanos lived the American Dream," former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter. "His incredible story should inspire each and every one of us. As a son of immigrants, he rose from working in his father's bakery to become a titan of real estate and business. But more importantly, he used his money and platform to give back to the world. He was a dear friend and I'll miss him dearly."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed Spanos as "an American success story, driven by a tireless work ethic inspired by his humble beginnings."
"Alex became one of the country's most successful businessmen, but he never forgot his roots and the call to help others," Goodell added in a statement. "Along with Faye, his beloved wife of nearly 70 years, Alex's philanthropic and civic contributions touched many lives throughout California and around the country. He was a marvelous friend and partner whose impact on the NFL will never be forgotten. We all benefited from Alex's compassion, character and zest for football and life."
Read more about Spanos here.