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James Guthrie; Publisher and Conductor

March 16, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

James K. Guthrie, who divided his time between the seemingly disparate careers of newspaper publisher and respected musical conductor in San Bernardino, has died. He was 81.

As a boy of 15, Guthrie followed his father, then-Sun and Telegram publisher James A. Guthrie, to work at the family newspaper. Two years later, the musically inclined 17-year-old founded and became conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of San Bernardino Valley.

Throughout his life, Guthrie would move back and forth between the fields of music and journalism.

As a young flutist, he played on Walt Disney animated film soundtracks. A proponent of English-language opera, he later conducted opera companies on both coasts, from the national Grand Opera of New York to the Cosmopolitan Opera Company of San Francisco. He also served as director of the Hollywood Bowl and the Redlands Bowl.

Music, Guthrie said in 1984, "is like an addiction. There are very few towering emotional experiences you can have in life which are within the law, and music seems to have provided most of them for me."

In between stints that also included positions as musical director of several ballet companies, Guthrie worked his way up through the ranks at the San Bernardino Sun. Following the traditional path of newspaper heir-apparent, he began as a police reporter, became night city editor in 1940, and finally publisher in 1965.

Guthrie gave up newspapering when the Sun was sold in 1969, but continued to conduct music into his 80s.

He died Saturday after a heart attack.

Guthrie is survived by his wife, Jane McGowan Guthrie; three sons, Stephen, James F. and William; a daughter, Katie, and two grandchildren.

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