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Roy Ringer, 88; longtime aide to Pat Brown later worked for Salinger, RFK and L.A. Times

May 25, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Roy Ringer, a longtime aide and speechwriter for former California Gov. Pat Brown who later worked as an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times, has died. He was 88.

Ringer, who in retirement had been actively engaged in his passion of writing poetry, fell ill suddenly and died Sunday of pneumonia at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, his wife, Vivian, said.

A newsman before and after his career in politics, which also included work for Democratic U.S. Sens. Pierre Salinger and Robert F. Kennedy, Ringer was an editorial writer for The Times from 1974 to 1984. He had previously worked for the old Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Mirror.

Born in Pittsburgh, Ringer graduated from Huntington Park High School and began his newspaper career at the Huntington Park Signal at 17. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II.

After the war, he joined the Los Angeles Daily News as a copy boy and quickly worked his way up to reporter covering sports, crime, books and drama. He eventually became the night city editor.

When the paper folded in 1954, he worked in political public relations before joining the Mirror as a rewrite man. He moved into the political arena in 1961 as a staff secretary for Brown, writing speeches and running the Democratic governor's Los Angeles office.

Ringer was press secretary to Salinger, who had been John F. Kennedy's press secretary, after Salinger was named by Brown in 1964 to fill the term of the late Sen. Clair Engle. Salinger was in office only a few months before losing the general election to former actor George Murphy.

Ringer was writing speeches and handling press for Robert F. Kennedy when the New York senator was shot at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel by Sirhan Sirhan after winning the California primary.

Ringer and his wife left the country and spent several years living and working in England, Israel and France.

He joined The Times in January 1974 as an editorial writer covering issues including government and the environment and stayed with the paper until retiring in 1984. In 1974, Ringer wrote the editorial in which the paper called for the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal. It was, his wife said, "one of his proudest achievements."

His colleagues remembered Ringer as a skillful stylist with a tremendous grasp of policy issues. He read his editorials aloud to himself, thinking that the sound of the text was vital to communicating ideas.

As an editor, Ringer handled Salinger's book on Kennedy's presidency, "With Kennedy," and his novel "On Instructions of My Government."

In addition to his wife of 52 years, Ringer is survived by a brother, Harry, and a sister, June Spotts.

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