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Richard C. Seaver, 85; oil-drilling exec, donor to L.A. Opera

June 14, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Richard C. Seaver, an oil-drilling equipment executive and a longtime benefactor of the Los Angeles Opera and other local arts and educational organizations, died Sunday on his 85th birthday.

Seaver died of complications from a cerebral blood clot at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his daughter Victoria Dean.

"Los Angeles Opera has lost one of its most important and influential friends," Placido Domingo, the opera's general director, told The Times in a statement.

Marc Stern, the opera's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement that Seaver's "passion for opera and commitment to our city played a central role in making the company what it is today."

Seaver was a founding member of the opera's board -- joining it in 1986 -- and had served as its president and chairman.

Gifts from Seaver funded the opera's 2006 presentation of "Don Carlo" and other productions. He also made onstage contributions, appearing in the nonsinging role of the cardinal in "Tosca" in 2001 and 2005.

Since 1957, Seaver had worked at Hydril Co., which grew into an international supplier of parts and equipment to oil drillers. He had led the company since the 1964 death of founder Frank R. Seaver, an uncle.

In May, Seaver oversaw the sale of Houston-based Hydril to Tenaris S.A. of Buenos Aires for $2.2 billion, said Chris Seaver, a son.

Richard Carlton Seaver was born in Los Angeles in 1922 to Mary Louise Schmidt, a prominent businesswoman who designed and financed office buildings, and Byron Dick Seaver, a lawyer.

His father was from a pioneering Pomona family; his grandparents' home is used as Pomona College's alumni house. Seaver attended the college but left during World War II to serve in the Army in the Pacific theater.

Seaver earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Pomona in 1946 and a law degree from UC Berkeley in 1949. Five siblings also graduated from Pomona College.

Gifts from the Seavers have funded several buildings at the college, and the theater complex is named for his father. Seaver served on the college's board of trustees for more than 25 years.

Among Seaver's many other causes were Pepperdine University, whose undergraduate school is named Frank R. Seaver College after his uncle; California Institute of the Arts; Good Samaritan Hospital of Los Angeles; and the Episcopal Church.

Seaver, who was twice divorced, lived in the Hollywood Hills and had a second home in Long Beach, where he kept a 40-foot sailboat named Liberty.

In addition to his daughter, Victoria, and son, Chris, Seaver is survived by three other children, R. Carlton, Patrick and Martha; his fiancee, Sara Jayne Kimm; 15 grandchildren; and two sisters.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests donating to charity through the Richard C. Seaver Fund at the Seaver Institute, 11611 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 545, Los Angeles, CA 90049.

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valerie.nelson@latimes.com

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