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Theodore Bruinsma; Attorney, Educator


Theodore A. Bruinsma, South Bay attorney, educator and businessman active in publishing and politics, has died. He was 78.

Bruinsma, a former dean of Loyola Law School, died Sept. 8 of cancer at USC Norris Cancer Center, said his son-in-law, Doug Kirk.

An eclectic professional throughout his life, Bruinsma most recently headed Torrance-based University Technology Transfer, a company he started to find and market new technologies developed on college campuses.

In addition to his faculty work at Loyola, Bruinsma served two years on the California State University system's Board of Trustees. Named to the board in 1986 by his friend Gov. George Deukmejian, Bruinsma resigned in 1988 after objecting to the board's ouster of Cal State Long Beach President Stephen Horn.

"I do not feel that my service . . . is either contributing or productive under the circumstances," Bruinsma said in his letter of resignation. A friend and fellow trustee said Bruinsma "just got tired of the hassle."

Restlessness was characteristic of the highly successful Bruinsma, friends and relatives said. He was always seeking new challenges--organizing a political effort or creating a successful business and moving on.

"To him, all of these things were all part of life. He never lost focus that they were all part of the process and not an end," his son, attorney Tim Bruinsma, told the Daily Breeze of Torrance. "He mostly just felt that he had a talent that should be used for the public good."

The elder Bruinsma served as executive vice president of Packard Bell Electronics, was a top executive for Lear Jet and Harvest Industries, was a board member of San Pedro Peninsula Hospital and was president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

In politics, he served as a city councilman in Glen Rock, N.J., and after coming to California, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He was an advisor to Deukmejian and to Richard M. Nixon and in 1992 organized Citizens Jury to get voters interested in supporting issues and candidates.

A resident of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Bruinsma started a publishing company called Libris and, with photographer Mary Donovan, produced two picture books, "Our Peninsula: A Pictorial Presentation" and "A Special Place: A Picture Story of the Palos Verdes Peninsula."

He wrote three novels and at the time of his death was working on a picture book about California's Central Coast.

Born in Prospect Park, N.J., where his father served as mayor, Bruinsma was educated at Washington and Lee University and Harvard law and business schools. He served as a naval officer during World War II and the Korean War, and practiced law in New York before moving to California in the early 1960s.

In addition to his son, Bruinsma is survived by his wife, Edith; two daughters, Lynn Kirk and Dayle Dodds; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for today at 10 a.m. at Rolling Hills Covenant Church, 2222 Palos Verdes Drive North, Rolling Hills Estates.

The family has asked that memorial donations be made to the San Pedro Peninsula YMCA.

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