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Leonard McRoskey, 84; Plastics Manufacturer, Bank Executive and Navy Department Official

June 12, 2004|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Leonard H. McRoskey, a Los Angeles businessman and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy who had an unsuccessful run for the California Senate in 1992, has died. He was 84.

McRoskey died of a heart attack Wednesday at his home in West Los Angeles, said his daughter Mary Byrnes.

A longtime plastics manufacturer and a former bank vice president, McRoskey served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs from 1986 to 1988.

For his leadership at the Pentagon, McRoskey received the Department of the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award. It was his second such honor. The first award was presented in 1974 for his service as regional vice president and national director of the Navy League/Navy-sponsored U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

Although he had been involved in community service for many years, as well as the Republican State Central Committee, McRoskey had never given a thought to running for public office. That changed in May 1992, when he was filling out his absentee ballot for the June primary and realized that no Republican was running in the 23rd state Senate District race.

"Jiminy Christmas," the longtime Westsider recalled telling his wife, Virginia, in a 1992 Los Angeles Times interview. "This means whoever wins in the Democratic primary gets a free ride. It's a giveaway."

After waging a last-minute write-in campaign, McRoskey managed to receive enough votes to qualify him as the official Republican candidate in the November election, pitting him against Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica).

McRoskey, who later told The Times that he was running as a family values-oriented civic leader who could take charge and help improve the state's economy and quality of life, said that he would classify himself as neither liberal nor conservative.

"I like to say I am a sensitive, sensible type of man who has been out in the realities of business and social activities and has traveled quite widely," McRoskey said, adding that he was prepared to wage a serious campaign. "I've always been successful in what I've done."

Hayden the Democrat had a major edge over GOP candidate McRoskey: The 23rd state Senate District, covering most of the Westside and the southern portion of the San Fernando Valley, was heavily Democratic. In the November election, Hayden received 57% of the votes; McRoskey earned 32%.

McRoskey was born in San Mateo, Calif., on July 15, 1919. After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from USC in 1943, he joined the Navy and served with the Seabees.

After World War II, he and his brother, Jack, established a real estate brokerage, insurance agency and general contracting company in Beverly Hills. In 1950, they started a plastics manufacturing firm, Wen-Mac, and later founded Republic Tool & Manufacturing Corp., SCP Corp., X-Act Mold Engineering Corp. and Mack Brothers, an industrial real estate holding company.

In the early 1980s, McRoskey launched a second career in banking and finance. He served as a vice president of Lloyds Bank Trust Division in West Los Angeles, followed by a vice presidency and directorship of the Private Banking Division of Bank of America before going to work at the Pentagon.

In 1999, McRoskey received the Scout Family Values Award from Boy Scouts of America in recognition of his commitment to community and country.

In addition to his daughter Mary and his brother Jack, McRoskey is survived by his wife of 62 years, Virginia; four other children, Ann Benton and John, Michael and Patrick; 18 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westwood.

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