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Frederick Waller, Austrian Consul in West, Dies

November 10, 1987|BURT A. FOLKART | Times Staff Writer

Frederick Waller, who represented Austria when that nation opened its first consular office in Los Angeles in 1933 but then was forced to close it when Hitler took over his native land five years later, died Sunday.

Waller, who retired in 1970, was 93 and died in a San Fernando hospital.

A native of Vienna, Waller moved to Washington in 1914 as a junior attache at the Austro-Hungarian Embassy.

He came to Los Angeles in 1922 and founded the Pan Pacific Oil Co. in Long Beach in 1927. (The company was sold to Union Oil in 1952.)

His firm specialized in packaging five-gallon containers of oil and shipping them to China in wooden boxes for distribution to individual homes. The novel, "Oil for the Lamps of China," paralleled his career, as did the 1935 film, starring Pat O'Brien, based on the book.

As head of the oil company he traveled frequently and counted among his close friends Czechoslovakia's Jan Masaryk, the Philippines' Manuel Quezon and America's Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

In 1932 he became a sponsor of the first Olympic Games to be held in Los Angeles.

But it was as a consul that he was best known here. Until Hitler marched into Austria, Waller was consul for all the Western states and for Alaska, Hawaii and the Philippines. After the invasion he was ordered by the German consul general here to surrender the contents of his office. He gave them instead to the FBI.

Fuel for the Military

When the United States entered the war in 1941, Waller converted his refinery operation and produced fuel for Army and Navy aircraft. For his efforts, he was given an award from the Ordnance Division of the War Production Board.

After the four-power occupation of Austria at war's end in 1945, Waller acted as Austrian political representative in Washington and then was reappointed consul general by the American, British, French and Soviet governments, who were empowered to oversee Austria until it was given its independence in 1955. That was the year Austria upgraded its consulate here to consulate general and promoted Waller to the new post.

From 1949 to 1950 he had been an adviser to the U.S. government on the Austrian economy as it was being rebuilt under the Marshall Plan.

He was decorated by the Romanian government in 1934 and by the land of his birth in 1964.

Awarded Prizes

Conversely, over the years Waller himself awarded Austrian honors and prizes to such international figures as conductor Bruno Walter and former President Herbert Hoover. Locally his honorees included former USC Chancellor Rufus B. von KleinSmid and film director Otto Preminger.

Waller, who received an honorary doctorate from USC in 1931, is survived by two daughters, a son, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His wife, Jeanne, died in 1978.

Services will be private.

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