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Catherine Campbell Hearst; UC Regent, Benefactor

January 01, 1999|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Catherine Campbell Hearst, a conservative member of the University of California Board of Regents for 20 years, including the riotous 1960s, has died at the age of 81.

Hearst, who had moved to Beverly Hills after her divorce from Randolph A. Hearst, died Wednesday of a stroke at UCLA Medical Center.

She became a nationally known figure after the Feb. 4, 1974, kidnapping of her daughter, Patricia Hearst, by the terrorist Symbionese Liberation Army. She remained the prayerful and supportive mother during her daughter's saga, which included conversion to terrorism, 18 months in hiding, arrest and an eight-week trial for bank robbery.

Catherine Hearst was attending a regents meeting in Los Angeles when her daughter was arrested in San Francisco's Mission district Sept. 18, 1975.

"God has answered our prayers. Today everything is wiped out--all the despair. I'm terribly happy," Hearst told The Times and immediately flew north to see her daughter.

Hearst, a Republican, was named to the university governing board by Gov. Goodwin Knight in 1956 to fill an unexpired term, and to her own 16-year term in 1958. A loyal supporter of Gov. Ronald Reagan, she was reappointed by him in 1974, but resigned two years later. She offered no reason for the resignation, but observers attributed it to stress over the family ordeal involving her daughter.

Patricia Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison, a sentence ultimately commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

The day that six SLA members died in a colossal televised shootout in Los Angeles, May 17, 1974, Catherine Hearst broke her wrist in a fall. Under stress because of her daughter's ordeal, she was hospitalized four days for rest at that time.

Born July 5, 1917, in Atlanta, Catherine Wood Campbell graduated from Washington Seminary. The wealthy debutante moved to San Francisco and, in 1938, married Randolph Apperson Hearst, the son of publishing empire founder William Randolph Hearst. Her husband later became president of the San Francisco Examiner and chairman of the Hearst Corp.

She was a philanthropist and socialite in the affluent San Francisco peninsula suburb of Hillsborough before becoming a regent in 1956. She followed a long line of Hearsts to the board--a legacy of Phoebe Apperson Hearst's financing of several buildings on the UC Berkeley campus at the turn of the century.

During Catherine Hearst's tenure on the board, regents were key figures in the battle over the limits of free speech and university involvement in military research. She supported restrictions on allowing Communists to speak on campus, supported the removal of radical Angela Davis from a teaching position at UCLA, and opposed allowing campus facilities to be used for antiwar teach-ins and other protests.

She was possibly targeted by an assassin in June 1972. A bullet was fired into a car in which she was a riding to a regents meeting in Los Angeles. The bullet missed her and the driver and lodged behind the back seat.

Hearst separated from her husband in 1978 and later divorced him. A devout Catholic, she became even more involved in church activities after moving to Beverly Hills. She also was active in the Beverly Hills Garden Club.

Survivors include two brothers, Steven and Jack Campbell of Los Angeles; five daughters, Catherine M. Hill, Patricia Hearst Shaw, Virginia Randt, Anne Randolph Hearst and Victoria Hearst, and four grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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