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Robert H. Ahmanson, 80; president of foundation for arts, humanities

September 04, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

Robert H. Ahmanson, longtime president of the Ahmanson Foundation, died of a heart attack Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 80.

Ahmanson served since 1974 as head of the foundation, which has funded cultural projects in the arts and humanities in Los Angeles for more than 50 years, his son William Ahmanson told The Times on Monday.

A native of Omaha, Ahmanson came to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1949. He went to work for his uncle, financier Howard F. Ahmanson, who founded H.F. Ahmanson & Co., an insurance firm that became one of the leading fire underwriters in California.

Robert Ahmanson stayed on with the company, retiring as a director and officer in 1995.

He also served as a trustee of the Jules Stein Eye Institute at the UCLA School of Medicine and as an honorary life trustee of both the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Marlborough School.

His awards include honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Pepperdine University, Art Center College of Design and Creighton University.

In addition to his son William, he is survived by his wife of 52 years, Kathleen; another son, Robert Hayden Ahmanson; a daughter, Karen Ahmanson Hoffman; and seven grandchildren.

Ahmanson will be buried in Omaha. A memorial celebration in Los Angeles is being planned.

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