Franklin Otis Booth Jr., Member of ‘L.A. Times’ Founding Family, Dies at 84

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Franklin Otis Booth Jr., a member of the founding family of the Los Angeles Times, has died. He was 84.

Booth, a great-grandson of newspaper founder Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles from complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease, his family told the paper.

During the 1950s, Booth oversaw the printing of the newspaper. In 1968, he was named vice president of Times Mirror Corp. in charge of forest products and commercial printing.

His tenure at the paper overlapped with that of his second cousin and close friend, Otis Chandler, the famed publisher who held the reins of the paper from 1960 to 1980. The cousins shared a passion for the outdoors.

Booth, also called Otis, surfed, fished and hunted.

During his early years at the Times, Booth began investing in real estate with his friend Charles Munger, now vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

They worked on two real estate projects in Pasadena and quadrupled their money, Munger told the paper.

It was Munger who introduced Booth to investor Warren Buffett in 1963 ? before Buffett’s business acumen had earned him billions.

“Otis went to Omaha, met Warren, and made his own decision,” Munger said. “Otis made all his own decisions, all his life, and made them very well. He had a good temperament for an investor. He wasn’t disturbed horribly by the difficult periods.”

Booth’s early decision to invest with Buffett left him with shares in Berkshire Hathaway, where Buffett is now chairman. Forbes.com placed Booth at No. 204 on its 2007 list of the richest Americans.

In 1972, Booth retired from the Times and operated several businesses before trying his hand at citrus farming and raising livestock.

Booth Ranches in the San Joaquin Valley consists of 9,000 acres (3,640 hectares) of orange groves, two citrus packing houses and a cattle ranch. Booth’s brand name is Otis Orchards.

Booth was born Sept. 28, 1923, in Pasadena, where he also spent his youth. By age 16 he was a student at the California Institute of Technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1944 then served two years in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

After his discharge, he earned an MBA and a graduate degree in engineering in 1948, both from Stanford University.

Over the years, Booth donated to many causes including the Harvard-Westlake School and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

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