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John Rountree, 99; Former Official at Port of Long Beach

June 03, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

John Rountree, a senior official at the Port of Long Beach from 1959 to 1971, has died. He was 99.

Rountree died of congestive heart failure May 16 at Hillcrest Care Center in Long Beach. He would have marked his 100th birthday on Oct. 25.

Rountree was hired as the port's traffic manager in March 1959. In 1966, he was named to the newly created position of director of port operations, in which he was responsible for security, sales of berths, pier operations, pricing of services and rental of the piers.

He also assigned berths or piers to visiting ships, which numbered about 5,000 each year.

Former colleagues recalled Rountree as an early advocate of women in management roles on the docks.

A native of Swainton, Ga., Rountree was born on a farm, and became interested in the sea when he visited Savannah when he was 12.

He went to the Coast Guard Academy, graduating in the class of 1925, and is believed to be the last surviving member of that class.

After graduation, Rountree had a variety of service assignments for the Coast Guard, which took him to Alaska; Boston; Staten Island, N.Y., Cincinnati; and Lisbon.

During World War II, he commanded troop transport ships in the European and Pacific theaters.

For several years in the 1950s, Rountree commanded the 11th Coast Guard District in Long Beach, with a jurisdiction that stretched from the Mexican border to Point Conception and halfway to Hawaii.

He is survived by his wife, Venetia; three daughters; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

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