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Albert J. Lima; Leader in State's Communist Party

June 11, 1989|From Staff and Wire Reports

Albert J. (Mickie) Lima, a state leader of the Communist Party during the Red-scare era of the 1950s, has died of cancer at 82.

Lima, who died at his Oakland home June 3, was convicted of threatening the overthrow of the U.S. government, but the Los Angeles federal jury decision was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958.

Seven years later, he was charged with defying a federal order to register as an enemy agent. The Supreme Court again said the charge was unconstitutional and freed him.

Born in the small coastal mill town of Usal in California's Mendocino County, Lima ended a 13-year ban on communist speakers at UC Berkeley in 1963 when he delivered an address to about 1,400 people as Wheeler Auditorium.

"The very fact of my speaking here today might well prove more important than anything I may say," he told his audience.

His wife, Helen, said they met in 1935 when he helped organize a union and a strike at the Arcata Barrel Factory, where he had gone to work after high school. The six-week strike ended with a police attack that resulted in the deaths of three workers. The union leaders and 114 workers were arrested and spent six months in jail.

The incident left Lima a committed member of the Communist Party, she said. He started out as a field organizer and worked his way into leadership of the state Communist Party.

Lima ran for Congress twice unsuccessfully as a Communist. He also attended the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Moscow as Northern California's party chief.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.

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