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Obituaries in the News

June 24, 2005

Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson, a leading philanthropist in Southern California and the widow of financier Howard F. Ahmanson, died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to her daughter, Margo O’Connell. She was 83.

Ahmanson was a board member of some of the largest companies and arts institutions in Southern California at some point in her life, including the Walt Disney Co., the Fluor Corp., the Carter Hawley Hale Stores and the Music Center. She also was one of the first women to chair a Federal Reserve Bank, overseeing the San Francisco Federal Reserve between 1981 and 1984.

Ahmanson was appointed by Ronald Reagan to a post on the president’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She helped found the Los Angeles-Guangzhou Sister City Committee for former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a group that continues to promote business ventures in both cities.

She was a member of the board of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the group that sponsored a visit by Chinese table tennis champions in 1972. That event was one of the early efforts to normalize U.S. relations with Communist China.

A close friend of President Nixon, and later of Reagan and their families, she served for several years as chairwoman of the President’s Council of the Nixon library.


Billy Bauer

MELVILLE, N.Y. (AP) _ Billy Bauer, a jazz guitarist who worked with Lennie Tristano, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker, died Friday. He was 89.

Bauer died of complications from pneumonia, said his daughter, Pamela.

He developed much of his solo technique while playing with Tristano’s group, which he joined in 1946. Before that, he had played mostly rhythm parts.

Bauer recorded both with the band and with individual members, such as saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. He founded a publishing company, William H. Bauer Inc., to publish compositions by himself, Tristano, Konitz and Marsh.

He went on to work with Goodman and Parker, and recorded one album as band leader: ``Plectrist,″ in 1956.

As the jazz recording industry began to fade, Bauer switched to teaching, opening the Billy Bauer Guitar School in 1970. He continued teaching lessons until shortly before his death.

He wrote an autobiography called ``Sideman.″


Gerald Brown

SACRAMENTO (AP) _ Gerald Brown, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board and California’s farm labor board, died Sunday. He was 90.

The NLRB said that Brown died of congestive heart failure.

Brown, a Democrat, was appointed to the NLRB in 1961 by President Kennedy and reappointed to a second five-year term by President Johnson in 1966.

In 1976, Gov. Jerry Brown named him chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board at a time the new agency had run out of money and was under fire from growers, who accused it of favoring Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers union.

Brown, who was not related to the governor, was the ``calming influence, the soothing kind of force″ the agency needed, said Boren Chertkov, a former general counsel for the state labor board.


Richard De Jager

WYOMING, Mich. (AP) _ Richard De Jager, whose Michigan construction company built thousands of retail stores nationwide, died Saturday. He was 66.

He died at his home in Palm Beach Shores, Fla. A cause of death was not available.

After years of working with his father on residential construction, he co-founded De Jager Construction Inc. in 1970 in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming to focus on commercial projects.

The fledgling company quickly began building stores locally and around the country.

Among other retailers, De Jager Construction’s clients include Kmart, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited and Bath & Body Works. By the time he retired in 1996, his company had built more than 7,500 stores, many of them in malls.


Charles D. Keeling

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) _ Charles D. Keeling, a scientist whose measurements showing a carbon-dioxide buildup in the atmosphere helped trigger fears of global warming, died Monday. He was 77.

Keeling, who died after a heart attack, was a pioneer in demonstrating that increased emissions of greenhouse gases could change the planet.

Beginning in 1955, he collected air samples to measure their carbon dioxide content. His measurements over the decades that followed showed that carbon dioxide levels were steadily rising _ a finding that shattered the conventional wisdom that the earth could soak up rising fossil fuel emissions without harm.

Charles Kennel, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with which Keeling was affiliated, called Keeling’s measurements ``the single most important environmental data set taken in the 20th century.″

In 2002, President Bush selected Keeling for the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in scientific research.


Charlie Saikley

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Volleyball guru Charlie Saikley, who ran the prestigious Manhattan Beach Open for decades and was known as the ``Godfather of Beach Volleyball,″ died of cancer June 17. He was 69.

Saikley died at his Manhattan Beach home, parks and recreation director Richard A. Gill said Wednesday.

``He took an indoor sport and took it outdoors,″ Gill said.

Association of Volleyball Professionals commissioner Leonard Armato said Saikley was known worldwide for organizing beach volleyball tournaments.

``He liked to build consensus and enjoyed the essence of what beach volleyball is about _ world-class athleticism coupled with the beach lifestyle,″ Armato said.


James B. Stephenson

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) _ James B. Stephenson, a Kentucky Supreme Court justice from its beginnings in 1976 until 1988, died Tuesday of heart failure, said his grandson, Joe Anderson. He was 89.

Stephenson was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1939 and practiced law in Pike County. He was Pike County Circuit Court judge from 1958 to 1972, when he was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

He lost an internal election to become chief justice in 1982 to Robert F. Stephens, and in 1988 lost a bid for re-election to Dan Jack Combs.


Louis H. Wilson

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (AP) _ Retired Gen. Louis H. Wilson, a Medal of Honor winner and former commandant of the Marine Corps, died Tuesday. He was 85.

Wilson, who had battled a degenerative disorder of the nervous system for several years, died at home in this Birmingham suburb, said his daughter, Janet Taylor.

Wilson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in the South Pacific during World War II. According to the award citation, he organized night defenses throughout continuous enemy fire and, though wounded three times, coordinated hand-to-hand fighting for 10 hours to hold his unit’s position.

He later became the Marine Corps’ 26th commandant, holding the position from 1975 to 1979.

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