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The Death of a Passionate Leftist

March 24, 1993|BOB SIPCHEN

Ben Dobbs, who spent the better part of his life fighting what he saw as the evils of capitalism, died Sunday morning of cancer.

Dobbs, 81, grew up in Boyle Heights, and joined the Young Communist League while a student at UCLA in the '30s.

For the next two decades, as he and his comrades struggled to create the sort of workers' paradise they imagined was blossoming in the Soviet Union, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI and the LAPD's "red squad" worked with equal determination to thwart their efforts.

In 1948, a grand jury indicted Dobbs and his comrades, turning them into a Leftist cause celebre : the Los Angeles 21. Dobbs served several months in jail but in 1957 the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions.

Fed up with the repressive tactics of Soviet Communists and the leadership of the U.S. Communist Party, in 1973 Dobbs abandoned the organization to which he'd devoted himself so intently.

"Did we romanticize it? Of course we romanticized it!" Dobbs said of Soviet communism in a View profile last April.

But until ill health finally slowed him down last fall, he continued to work long hours as a volunteer.

Dobbs is survived by his widow Ada, three children and four grandchildren. The family plans a memorial service in May.

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