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Richard Ettinger Jr.; Publisher Founded Native American School

May 01, 1996|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard Prentice Ettinger Jr., a publisher and philanthropist who founded the Native American Preparatory School in San Ysidro, N.M., has died. He was 72.

Ettinger died Friday of cancer in Corona del Mar, said his daughter, Deborah Ettinger.

The son of a founder of the Prentice Hall publishing house, Ettinger co-founded his own firm, Wadsworth Publishing Co., in Belmont, Calif., in the early 1950s.

He was a former chairman of the board of his family's foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, and made it the principal financial backer of the New Mexico boarding school designed to prepare Native Americans for college.

After Ettinger read the book "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" in 1968, he worked to help educate Native Americans. He started a summer college preparatory school in Sedona, Ariz., in 1988, and later moved it to UC Irvine. The program was developed into a complete secondary school in San Ysidro last fall.

"I wanted to do something to help right the wrongs," the soft-spoken publisher told The Times in 1992. "I decided that the best way to help Native Americans is not to send food packages or build houses for them, not to keep them dependent on government largess, but to give them the educational tools so they can excel.

"We want to encourage these kids to excel, to represent their people and particularly to get into the professions, especially teaching, so that Native American children can see that teachers don't have to be non-Indians," he said. "That's how things will change for the better."

Last fall, shortly after the school opened, Ettinger said in another interview: "We want to fill the American Indians' educational hole--doctors, scientists, educators, business leaders."

Ettinger, who had homes in Corona del Mar and Santa Fe, N.M., was a trustee and benefactor of Whittier College.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon, a sister, Elaine, 11 children and six grandchildren.

The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Richard P. Ettinger Jr. Endowment Fund, Native American Preparatory School, Rowe, N.M. 87565.

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