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Katherine B. Loker, 1915 - 2008

Philanthropist funded many USC programs

June 29, 2008|From a Times Staff Writer

Katherine Bogdanovich Loker, an heir to the StarKist tuna fortune and a major philanthropist in Southern California, died Thursday at her Oceanside home from complications of a stroke, according to a spokesman for USC, her alma mater. She was 92.

Loker and her late husband, Donald, donated more than $30 million to USC. In 1977, they gave $15 million to establish USC's Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute and support the work of professor George A. Olah, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1994. She also funded the $3.4-million Katherine B. Loker Track and Field Stadium and a $1.5-million acting fellowship to the USC School of Theatre.

She donated $7 million to the Richard Nixon Library & Museum in Yorba Linda for a 47,000-square-foot addition that re-created the East Room of the White House.

Other local institutions she supported with major donations were Cal State Dominguez Hills, the California Hospital Medical Center and the California Science Center.

Harvard University, her husband's alma mater, also benefited from her donations. She gave nearly $30 million to the school, which named the Loker Reading Room in Widener Library and Loker Commons for her.

Katherine Bogdanovich was born in 1915 in San Pedro to Yugoslavian immigrant parents. Her father, Martin, was a tuna fisherman who founded what became StarKist Foods, one of the world's largest tuna fishing and canning operations.

She attended USC, receiving a bachelor's degree in English in 1940 and participating in track and field.

After graduating, she married. Her husband had a Hollywood acting career under the stage name Don Terry. He left acting to work for StarKist, rising to vice president. He died in 1988.

Survivors include two daughters, Deborah Hicks and Katherine Leahy; six grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and her sister, Nina.

A funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in San Pedro.


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