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PASSINGS: Richard J. Sheirer, Jiri Raska, Jack Lionel Warner

Richard J. Sheirer, NYC's emergency management chief at time of 9/11, dies at 65; Jiri Raska, Czech ski-jump champion, dies at 70; Jack Lionel Warner, architect whose firm designed Bel-Air Country Club, dies at 84

January 23, 2012
  • Richard Sheirer, center, spent many hours directly overseeing the recovery effort at ground zero.
Richard Sheirer, center, spent many hours directly overseeing the recovery… (Beth A. Keiser / Associated…)

Richard J. Sheirer

NYC emergency official at time of 9/11

Richard J. Sheirer, 65, the former New York City emergency management chief who helped guide the city through the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, died Thursday after experiencing chest pains.

Sheirer had respiratory problems after Sept. 11, and his family did not know whether exposure to toxic dust from the World Trade Center contributed to his death. An official cause of death is pending.

"He worked enormously effectively behind the scenes and gave credit to everyone else," said Rudy Giuliani, the city's former mayor.

Born in 1946 in Brooklyn, Sheirer graduated from St. Francis College in New York. He joined the Fire Department in 1967, rose to deputy commissioner and in 2000 became the city's director of emergency management.

When an arsonist killed dozens at a social club in the Bronx in 1990, Sheirer became "a very different person" after seeing "87 people perish for no reason," said Matthew Sheirer, one of his five sons.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Sheirer spent many hours directly overseeing the recovery effort at ground zero. "My father carried the weight of Sept. 11 with him every day, but he felt that he did everything that he could," Matthew said.

In 2002, Sheirer joined Giuliani's consulting firm, where his duties included upgrading security plans for a nuclear plant north of New York City and preparing emergency management plans for the government of Qatar.

Jiri Raska

Czech ski-jump champion

Jiri Raska, 70, the 1968 Olympic ski-jumping champion who was named the best Czech skier of the 20th century, died Friday at a hospital in Novy Jicin in the Czech Republic, the hospital announced. A cause was not given, but he had complained last fall about heart problems after triple-bypass surgery.

Raska became the first Czech to win gold at a Winter Olympics when he won off the middle hill in Grenoble, France. He also won a silver medal at the same Olympics on the large hill.

He "was a legend," said Milan Jirasek, chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee. "It's a great loss for Czech sport."

In 1969, Raska set the world record in ski jumping at 164 meters at the flying hill in Planica, in what was then Yugoslavia. Among his other successes, Raska claimed second place at the 1970 world championships.

After retiring from competition in 1976, he coached and was in charge of the men's and junior national team.

Jack Lionel Warner

Architect's firm designed the Bel-Air Country Club

Jack Lionel Warner, 84, an architect whose firm designed the Bel-Air Country Club and a wing of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in the Sea Ranch, Calif., said his wife, actress-author Joanna Barnes.

Warner's Montecito-based firm, the Warner Group Architects, was named four times to Architectural Digest's list of 100 of the world's top designers and architects.

Born Nov. 4, 1927, Warner grew up in Whittier and served in the Navy near the end of World War II. He graduated from the USC School of Architecture and launched his career designing a health facility in Whittier.

After establishing in 1966 what later became Warner Group Architects with James Morris and Charles Wilson, the group converted an old lemon packinghouse in Montecito into the elegant Birnam Wood Golf Club's clubhouse.

His firm was also known for its custom homes and resorts. Commissions included the Annandale Golf Club in Pasadena and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club in Pebble Beach. Warner architects designed the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

He largely retired in 2005 and moved to Northern California.

From Times staff and wire reports

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