August 2, 2010

In Memoriam: Donald Shiley

By SDSU NewsCenter

Darlene and Donald Shiley
Darlene and Donald Shiley

"We are deeply saddened at the news of Donald Shiley’s passing. Donald was a humanitarian in the truest sense. His contributions, both as an inventor and philanthropist, will leave a lasting legacy in our community and beyond. San Diego State’s students, faculty and staff have benefited greatly from Donald and Darlene’s support. Their generosity includes transformational gifts to KPBS, the SDSU BioScience Center and SDSU’s Musical Theater Program. We offer our condolences to Darlene and to all of Donald’s family during this difficult time."

— SDSU President Stephen L. Weber

About Donald Shiley

Donald, an entrepreneurial and innovative engineer, patented four of his creations, including the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which revolutionized heart surgery in the 1970s. He also designed numerous other medical devices, including an endotracheal tube used to maintain the airway in unconscious patients, as well as developed an aircraft fuel booster pump used by the U.S. military.

"Donald's development of the tilting-disc artificial heart valve was an innovative response to a very real need in the cardiovascular field," said Dr. Roberta Gottlieb, director of the SDSU BioScience Center and Frederick G. Henry Chair in the Life Sciences. "The BioScience Center intends to develop creative responses just like his to address today's pressing health concerns."

Darlene and Donald Shiley, who have been married for nearly 30 years, are longtime benefactors to the San Diego region, funding causes close to their hearts, including the sciences and the arts. Darlene, originally a biology major at San Jose State University, met Donald when she starred in a theatrical production of "The Lion in Winter."

Donald Shiley died on Saturday, July 31, at age 90. He is survived by his wife and four children.