On the eve of the Spring Convention, Westfield Group lost one of the figures key to its growth in the U.S. Richard Green, vice chairman of the company's U.S. operations, died on May 17 after a long battle with cancer.

“Richard's contribution to Westfield cannot be overstated,” Westfield chairman Peter Lowy writes in a letter to Westfield employees. “He joined the company in 1980 when the only Westfield staff was Frank and David Lowy. We interviewed him in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills and from that moment he became a driving force behind our growth in the United States.”

Green, 63, had been with the Westfield Group since 1980. Since then, Westfield has grown its U.S. portfolio to more than 63 million square feet of retail space of owned properties, ranking it as the fifth largest owner of regional malls in the U.S.

Prior to joining Westfield, Green worked for May Centers Inc. from 1968 to 1980, where as executive vice president he oversaw shopping center development and leasing activities. Green was a trustee of ICSC and served on the board of directors of the UCLA Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center and Allstarcharity.com.

Green is survived by his wife Anita, children Larry and Tracey and grandchildren Sarah, Jordan and Ethan. Larry is now a senior executive with Westfield.