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J.W. Jorgensen; Retired Aluminum Firm CEO


John W. Jorgensen, recently retired president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles-based Earle M. Jorgensen Co., died here Friday. He was 64.

Jorgensen retired earlier this month after 42 years with the nationwide processor and distributor of steel and aluminum, founded in 1924 by his father, board Chairman Earle Jorgensen, who continues to head the firm.

The successful company attracted national attention during President Ronald Reagan's Administration when it gave $50,000 to William French Smith on his resignation from the company's board of directors shortly before he became attorney general. Ultimately, Smith returned the money, even though Justice Department investigators decided that it was a proper payment for past services rather than an unethical supplement to his government salary.

Both Smith and Earle Jorgensen were among Reagan's long-term Kitchen Cabinet of advisers.

John Jorgensen, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, joined his father's company as a trainee in 1948 after graduation from Pomona College. During his career, he held the positions of executive assistant to the president, vice president, and president and chief executive officer.

He was a past chairman and director of the Steel Service Center Institute and past director of the National Assn. of Aluminum Distributors.

Jorgensen had also served on the boards of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, Flintridge Preparatory School and Pomona College.

In addition to his father, he is survived by his wife, Jacquelyn, three children, Jill Swann and Maren and Jay Jorgensen, a sister, a brother and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private. A public memorial service is scheduled at 12:45 p.m. Monday at St. Edmund's Episcopal Church, 1175 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Marino.

The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to Flintridge Preparatory School or the American Cancer Society.

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