'Rich in faith'

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The Ahmanson family made a lot of money in Los Angeles and left a lot of it here. The theatre at the Music Center is named for Howard F. Ahmanson, who built the largest savings and loan in the country and commissioned those ex-Home Savings locales with the Millard Sheets architecture and murals spread all over town. These days the family name is big in Orange County, where the Register today began spooling out a five-part series about press-shy philanthropist Howard F. Ahmanson Jr. (the son, who attended Black-Foxe Military Institute in Hancock Park), his wife Roberta, and their born-again Christianity. The couple, pictured in today's paper saying grace at an OC restaurant, cooperated at length after having a campaign donation to a Hawaii Republican returned because they were deemed too controversial. From part one today:

"When a politician sends money back, it's serious," Roberta Ahmanson says.

The Ahmansons came to believe they had an image problem, which they blame on the distortion, intentional or not, of their views by others.

They also came to believe that they held some responsibility to explain themselves and their beliefs, so that people might understand them and their work, which they see as a calling to do good in the world....

So Howard Ahmanson, the Home Savings and Loan heir whose zeal for privacy had left him a shadowy figure in the minds of many, and Roberta Ahmanson, a small-town Iowa girl who grew up to be a religion reporter, decided to start talking.

The "about this series" blurb says: "With God as his compass and wife Roberta Ahmanson as his partner, he set out to find useful ways to unburden himself of his money."


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