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William E. Forbes; Businessman, UC Regent During 1960s

August 18, 1999|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

William E. Forbes, head of his family's Southern California Music Co. and a UC regent during the turbulent campus protests of the 1960s, has died at the age of 93.

Forbes died Saturday in Pasadena, his family said.

The businessman and publicist joined the university's Board of Regents in 1959 in his capacity as president of the UCLA Alumni Assn. In 1962 he was named to a full 16-year term on the board by Gov. Pat Brown.

During the free speech movement of the 1960s, which included anti-Vietnam War protests and disturbances on several campuses, Forbes headed a committee to examine causes behind the student unrest and ways to address it. He also helped develop UC Education Abroad programs and facilities at the Irvine, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Davis campuses.

Forbes was a strong advocate of a tuition-free university, and staunchly opposed fees adopted in 1972 during the administration of Gov. Ronald Reagan.

"The tuition-free policy we had for 98 years was one of the reasons the university had grown to a position of eminence and intellectual success," Forbes told UCLA's campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, in 1972 after regents enacted the fee system. "UCLA's two Nobel laureates, Ralph Bunche and Glenn Seaborg, each told me personally that had there been tuition when they attended school, they would not have attended. Just think of the potential scholars we are losing now."

Among his fellow regents was the late industrialist and art collector Norton Simon. Forbes was named to the board of the Norton Simon Museum in 1974 and served for five years.

He was chosen UCLA alumnus of the year in 1967.

Born in Anoka, Neb., Forbes graduated from UCLA in 1928 after serving as the Daily Bruin's first editor. He began his career with CBS radio in Hollywood. In 1942, he transferred to New York as executive assistant to CBS Chairman William S. Paley, and later worked for Young & Rubicam Inc. developing television commercials.

Forbes returned to Los Angeles in 1951 to assume control of the family music business. He became active in the Downtown Businessmen's Assn. and the Better Business Bureau.

After the death of his first wife, Ann Fontron, Forbes married Madeleine Carpenter, who survives him. He is also survived by his daughter, Julie Holmquist, and two granddaughters.

Services were private.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the UCLA Foundation, 10920 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

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