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Nadine Henley; Executive at Hughes' Summa Corp.

July 15, 1990|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Nadine Henley, top executive and confidante of the late billionaire Howard Hughes for almost four decades, has died. She was 83.

Miss Henley died Friday in her Las Vegas home after suffering a stroke last week and developing pneumonia.

As senior vice president and director of Summa Corp., Hughes' umbrella company for all his holdings, she was one of the top three people who ran the Hughes financial empire during his final reclusive years and immediately after his death in 1976.

Miss Henley began her career with Hughes in 1940, when she moved to California and worked in the engineering department of Hughes Aircraft.

She became Hughes' private secretary in 1943, and developed into his trusted aide and confidante.

When Hughes moved to Las Vegas in the late 1960s to build his land and gaming empire, Miss Henley remained in Los Angeles to oversee his business interests. She moved to Las Vegas the year Hughes died.

The only woman to serve on Hughes' board, Miss Henley retired in 1979 and moved briefly to Coronado. She returned to Las Vegas in 1981 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

During her years of working for Hughes and after his death, Miss Henley maintained the strict silence about Hughes that he demanded of his top aides. She always declined offers to write a book or discuss his personal life, which could have made her a fortune.

Born Nov. 8, 1906, in Bloomington, Ind., Miss Henley first worked for a bank and then for Lehman Brothers in Chicago. In 1936, she became one of the first women to trade stock on the stock exchange floor.

Miss Henley's fifth husband died in March. She had no children and left no immediate survivors.

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