Donna Ellsworth Bolen, noted real estate agent and broker, died six weeks ago in her hometown of Chandler, Arizona, at age 90. Credited with bringing the technology sector to to the southwest in 1978 when she brought Intel to her hometown and again 20 years later when she negotiated the necessary details involved in Intel’s creating their second Chandler campus, Bolen employed her expertise in real estate to become a visionary change agent throughout the entire region.
Bolen’s early years required her to become independent and resourceful at a very early age. Seemingly born to the real estate profession, she became an agent at age 26 Two years later, Bolen became the first woman in the state to become a real estate broker. In 1964, she again broke the glass ceiling and became the first woman member of Arizona’s Economic Development Association.
Jeff Kurtz, Chandler’s current planning administrator, said of Bolen, “There is really nothing that is going to top the relationship Bolen had with Intel. After 40 years and building two campuses in Chandler, Intel recently announced an additional $7 billion project to outfit an existing building for their business.’ Kurtz continued. “I think they currently employ something like 10,000 here. Who’s to say how many more people they’ll employ with this new project. It’s a crazy number of families that benefit from the efforts of Donna Ellsworth Bolen.”
A lifelong member of the Chandler community, Bolen succeeded where others failed. “The reason she was so effective, so invaluable, is that she knew all the farmers, all the business owners, all the residents…if you wanted to sell or buy a piece of dirt in Chandler, you had to talk to Donna,” said an Intel spokesperson.
More than a consummate real estate professional, Bolen was also known as a Lucille Ball type, filled with laughter and idiosyncrasies. “One time,” one of her two daughters, Tani Earnhardt remembered, “Mom’s watch had stopped running and she couldn’t figure out why. Turned out that she’d driven through the car wash with her windows down.”
Her other daughter, Terelyn Riggs, said, “Mom was proud of everything Chandler had become as well as the role she played in the development of the town. But, she was most proud of her family.” That family consists of the daughters Earnhardt and Riggs, her son, Bryon Ellsworth, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Donna Ellsworth Bolen worked until the day she passed. She is an inspiration to all who knew her and to all the real estate professionals nationwide who would love to emulate her contributions to her hometown, to her family and to her countless friends.