The Kott family has held seats at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for 60 years.
However, William, Paul and Krystin Kott share more than this connection. They represent three generations of Trojans who embrace the same approach to life.
“Everything in life is easy,” William said. “All you have to do is find out what you are good at and convey it in a way that people understand.”
William, who attended USC on the G.I. Bill, earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science in USC Dornsife and a graduate degree from the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC in 1952. He later went on to earn a M.D. degree and specialize in maxillofacial surgery.
When it came time for his son Paul to select a college, he too chose USC. “I thought it would be good to follow in my dad’s footsteps and as I look back I believe it was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” he said.
Paul also took his father’s advice to follow his heart and explore all the educational opportunities the university had to offer. A highlight during his USC days was his involvement in the Joint Educational Project (JEP), housed in USC Dornsife. JEP is one of the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the United States and provides hands-on learning opportunities for USC students in the surrounding community. Paul began volunteering there in 1972, the year JEP was established.
“Every Thursday I would hop in my car and drive down to the public school off of Hoover and spend time with a youngster from El Salvador,” Paul said. “We had a fun time together and it gave me a chance to practice my Spanish.”
Paul graduated from USC Dornsife in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. He is fluent in the language and said speaking Spanish has been an asset in his business and in his life as a community volunteer. His passion for giving back continued after leaving USC.
After a brief stint as a professional magician, in 1982 Kott opened his own company, Paul Kott Realtors, Inc. in Anaheim, Calif.
Kott has been a member of the Anaheim YMCA Board of Directors for 25 years helping to build the nationally acclaimed Anaheim Achieves program which serves school-aged children and teens in after –school programs in 46 Anaheim locations. He and his 35-member realtor staff have taken leadership roles in Anaheim Beautiful, the Assistance League of Anaheim and several other Anaheim-based service organizations. Kott has twice been named Anaheim Man of the Year and was named Anaheim Business Man of the Year, 2011. Kott, a lifetime member of Hollywood’s Magic Castle, still breaks out his magician’s bag of tricks when he performs for several Anaheim non-profit organizations and charitable events.
“My education at USC has led to the way I think, how I treat people and how I conduct myself in business,” Kott said. “What I learned at USC has been a cornerstone in everything I do.”
When it was time for Paul’s daughter, Krystin Kott Ikari, to transfer from community college to a four-year university, he advised her just as his father once had: follow your heart.
The memories her father shared of USC helped make up her mind.
“My dad took us to football, basketball and volleyball games, showed us around and shared his memories,” Krystin said. “This definitely helped shine a light and when I was looking at colleges it became No. 1 on my list so I was really grateful to be accepted.”
She graduated with a B.S. in health promotion and disease prevention from Keck School of Medicine of USC in 2004 and continued studying health sciences. Krystin is now an RN at Placentia-Linda Hospital in Placentia, California.
“I always knew growing up that my grandpa and dad had gone to USC and it was a family legacy,” she said. “I knew it was a meaningful experience for both of them.”
Recently, the three generations sat around the kitchen table discussing plans to celebrate William’s 90thth birthday. They reminisced and talked about how proud they are of the family’s Trojan lineage.
“I think it's a wonderful thing that my son and granddaughter went to USC,” William said. “They were exposed to different cultures both academic and extra-curricular that helped to shape a strong foundation for their futures. And that makes me happy.”