Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Franklin Otis Booth Jr. dies at 84

Part-time valley resident one of America’s richest people

Express Staff Writer

Former Los Angeles Times executive, businessman and part-time Wood River Valley resident Franklin Otis Booth Jr., 84, died Sunday in Los Angeles, Calif. from complications of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Booth, who Forbes magazine regularly listed as one of the richest people in the U.S., was a well-known philanthropist.

He had the great foresight to invest early with a then-unknown financial wizard by the name of Warren Buffet. In 1963, Booth reportedly met Buffet while working on a real estate project and decided to invest in Buffet's company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Booth's initial $1 million investment turned into a $1.4 billion stake in the company, according to Forbes.

Wood River Valley friends remember him as a proud and devoted fisherman.

Booth was the great-grandson of Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, founder of the Los Angeles Times. Booth worked at the newspaper and eventually retired in 1972 as vice president of Times Mirror Corp. in charge of forest products and commercial printing.

He then turned his efforts to raising oranges on 9,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley, an occupation he loved, according to Forbes.

Booth graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in engineering and followed that with an MBA and a graduate degree in engineering, both from Stanford University. He also served two years in the Naval Reserve.

He is survived by his third wife, a son and a stepson, three daughters, a step-daughter and 15 grandchildren.

A private funeral is scheduled Thursday in California.

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