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Philip Dye, 72; Led Private Network of Pinecrest Schools

November 14, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Philip H. Dye, a teacher and headmaster who took over the private, for-profit Pinecrest Schools that his late mother founded half a century ago in suburban Los Angeles, has died. He was 72.

Dye, who became Pinecrest owner and academic director in 1972, died Sunday of undisclosed causes in Mission Hills.

In 1999, 50 years after his mother, Edna Mae Dye, created the first Pinecrest School on six acres in Van Nuys formerly owned by actor Robert Cummings, Dye told The Times, "We started catering to the working parent early on."

For the first decade, the school boarded its students and catered to the film industry, educating and caring for children of such entertainment industry figures as director Arch Oboler while he went to Africa to shoot "Bwana Devil."

Other early Pinecrest parents who placed their children in the Dyes' care were Jack Webb, creator and star of television's "Dragnet," and songwriter Bobby Troup, who became famous for his "Route 66" and wrote Pinecrest's school song.

The institution ceased its boarding operation by the end of the 1950s but continued to concentrate on serving families whose parents have long commutes and workdays. As more mothers joined the workforce, Pinecrest expanded to 11 campuses throughout the San Fernando, Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys.

The company now enrolls more than 6,000 students from preschool through middle school and offers classes and 12 hours of child care per day as well as summer sessions and day camps.

Dye, whose brother Donald supervised the business end of the operation, started working as an elementary school teacher at the original Van Nuys campus. In 1958, he opened and served as headmaster of the second campus in Northridge. He was active on the Pinecrest board of directors from that year until 2000.

As a teacher and administrator, Dye watched early education evolve from "nursery" to "day care" to the term he preferred, "preschool."

As early as 30 years ago, he was cautioning public school kindergartens to "reevaluate and jack up" their programs to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of children learning educational skills in burgeoning preschools.

"Our teachers are trained in teaching a pre-kindergarten curriculum that includes basic academic skills like writing names and learning the alphabet," he said in 1993. "That is the advantage that a child has in attending a preschool: He gets better preparation, academically."

Dye is survived by his wife, Betty; three children, Philip, Daria and Corey; and six grandchildren.

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