Billionaire John E. Anderson dies

anderson.jpgOne of the major names in Los Angeles business - and the epitome of the self-made man. Anderson died of pneumonia at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was 93. From LAT obit:

The son of a barber, Anderson was born Sept. 12, 1917, in Minneapolis, where he sold popcorn in front of his father's shop as a boy. The valedictorian of his high school class, Anderson arrived in Los Angeles in 1936 with a hockey scholarship to UCLA. While earning a bachelor's degree in business administration, he spent his early morning hours keeping the books for a local builder and spent his weekends working at an open metal heat-treating oven at North American Aviation.

After graduating from UCLA in 1940, Anderson earned an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1942. He passed his CPA exam while serving on the staff of an admiral during World War II service in the Navy. Back in Los Angeles after the war, he worked at the Arthur Andersen & Co. accounting firm during the day and attended Loyal University School of Law at night. In 1953, three years after earning his law degree, he and James H. Kindel Jr. founded the Los Angeles law firm of Kindel & Anderson.

He launched his investment empire in 1956 with the purchase of a Hamm's beer distributorship in downtown L.A. (several of his clients had been in the beverage business. Today, his Century City investment firm, Topa Equities, owns 33 subsidiaries in insurance, real estate, financial services, wholesale beverage distribution, automobile dealerships and manufacturing. UCLA's graduate school of management is named after him (only in April he and his wife contributed another $25 million to the school). Soft-spoken and friendly, Anderson was about the least pretentious billionaire you're likely to run across. He was always a delight to talk to.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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