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Obituaries

James Toland, 95; former editor was a key figure of Times' Home magazine

February 25, 2007|Mary Rourke | Times Staff Writer

James Toland, a former editor of Home magazine, which was part of the Sunday Los Angeles Times for more than four decades, died Tuesday. He was 95.

Toland died of complications from pneumonia after being admitted to the Community Hospital of San Bernardino, said his wife, Dolli.

Her husband's passion for architecture and home interiors, combined with a postwar boom in new housing in Southern California, was "a match made in heaven," she said.

In 1952 he was named editor of Home, which focused on houses, gardens and home cooking, with a mix of large-scale photos and artists' illustrations.

"Every story in the magazine was dead-on local," said Robert Smaus, who was garden editor for the magazine starting in the early 1970s. "If you read it in Home, you could relate to it directly.

"Jim Toland helped build the magazine into what it was," Smaus said.

The annual swimming pool issue that was developed in Toland's time captured a major trend of the '50s and '60s.

"Jim was editor of Home during the great expansion of the San Fernando Valley and Orange County, when you had to have a pool," Smaus recalled. "People built one the minute they moved into a house."

The pool issues tracked the evolution of the home swimming pool from rectangular to kidney and other shapes designed to blend with the surrounding garden.

Toland was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Jan. 3, 1912, and moved to Los Angeles with his family when he was a boy. He graduated from Manual Arts High School before he joined The Times in 1937.

He was a night war editor at the newspaper during World War II and later moved to general assignment news. He was also a photo editor for several years. After about 15 years as editor of Home, he was made Sunday editor. He retired in 1975.

Toland designed and built a number of houses on his own and remodeled a cabin in Wrightwood that became his permanent residence in 1985.

His first marriage ended in divorce. Along with his second wife, Toland is survived by a brother, Donald; two children, Gregg Toland and Terrell MacAdam; a stepchild, Karen Kowalski; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

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mary.rourke@latimes.com

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