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Harry Rinker’s Legendary Influence on California Real Estate
November 3, 2021

Harry Rinker’s Legendary Influence on California Real Estate

by The CE Shop Team

Take a Note From This Ethical Agent

It’s an Ethics renewal year, and we all know what that means! The National Association of REALTORSⓇ (NAR) requires its members to complete a minimum of 2.5 hours of instructional time centered on their Code of Ethics before 12/31/2021. If you aren’t caught up, The CE Shop can help with our engaging Ethics courses. If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea of an interesting Ethics course, we understand — so don’t take our word for it. Check out what our students think of our Ethics offerings here.


It’s also November, and thus we enter the season of giving. To showcase real estate professionals who exemplify ethical behavior and philanthropic ideals, we’ve decided to highlight an agent in Southern Californiathat exudes altruism.

The late Harry Rinker has been described as a catalyst for tremendous change within the Southern California real estate industry. He is a legendary figure amongst real estate developers who’s been recognized for his contributions to real estate, conservation, and for his generous philanthropic efforts overall. Rinker’s generosity reflected his passion for education and helping others attain the American dream of homeownership.

Harry Rinker

Who Was Harry Rinker?

Harry Rinker was born on 2/4/1921 in Ontario, Canada. At just two years old, Rinker moved to the United States with his parents. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington, on a farm without indoor plumbing or electricity. Growing up during the Great Depression, Rinker quickly found his entrepreneurial spirit, mowing lawns and running a newspaper route at the age of 10. His first real job was in a cannery where he worked every summer through high school.

He served in the Army during World War II and, following his time in the service, moved to Orange County, California. Rinker first entered the real estate industry as a residential Broker in his early 20s, though he switched tracks and became a home builder.

In 1951, his focus shifted to tract homes. He built thousands of tract homes before transitioning to shopping center development construction.

To support California’s growing population, Rinker went on to build more than 100 gas stations and 60 shopping centers as amenities for new residents in a time where California was largely undeveloped.

Inspired by his humble beginnings, Rinker always kept a positive outlook on life. In a 2018 interview with Idaho Mountain Express, he said, “I have always tried to be positive in my life, to stay active and not make too many mistakes.”

Harry Rinker passed away on 8/23/2021at the age of 100.

Harry Rinker’s Philanthropic Efforts

Despite his bountiful success, Rinker never forgot to give back. Beyond Rinker’s contributions to the foundation of Southern California’s communities, he was an award-winning philanthropist. According to his obituary, Rinker and his wife served on the Board of Trustees for Chapman University since 1976 and contributed $15 million to establish the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine.

Rinker’s contributions to conservation are also worth noting. Lifelong nature lovers, the Rinkers donated the Wood River Land Trust in 2014 and established a conservation easement on their 10,400-acre "Rock Creek Ranch." Beyond these impressive benefactions, Rinker was also actively involved in the following organizations:

  • Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
  • Big Brothers of America
  • Eisenhower Medical Center
  • Segerstrom Center for the Arts
  • Orange County Sheriff Advisory Council
  • Orangewood Home for Dependent Children
  • South Coast Repertory Theater

Be More like Harry Rinker

Ethical agents understand the impact and vital role they hold in their communities. Not only is acting ethically the right thing to do, but agents can also promote themselves by sharing their morals in their marketing materials, making it simple to distinguish themselves as the real estate hero their town deserves.