February 24, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Two Local Legends Lost:

PHIL HILL, the first American to win the Formula One World Championships, died last Thursday at Monterey, California. He was 81 and lived in Santa Monica  in the same house in which he grew up. Hill suffered from Parkinson’s disease and another degenerative neurological disorder, multiple systems atrophy, and was confined to an electric cart near the end of his life.

“He was a very intelligent, very humble guy,” said Buck Kamphausen, owner of Skyview Memorial Lawn in Vallejo and a long-time friend of Mr. Hill’s. “But yet, he had a great sense of humor with a little bit of sarcasm and a little ornery. He loved to talk cars and loved people.”

Hill lived in the same house in Santa Monica since 1929, so his last ride will be in a restored 1929 Packard hearse driven from Vallejo to Southern California this weekend for the funeral.

Along with his slightly younger contemporaries, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, Hill was a racing legend. If his name is lesser known than these other racing icons, it is because he raced more often in Europe and Latin America than in the U.S. and also because he never competed in the Indy 500.

Hill won the Sebring 12-hour race in Florida three times, in 1958, 1959, and 1961. In 1958, he was the first American to win the 24-hour race at Le Mans, a victory he repeated in 1961 and 1962. He won the Argentine 1000km race three times, the Grand Prix of Italy twice, and the Belgian Grand Prix.  To this day, Hill remains the only American-born driver to win the Italian Grand Prix.

Hill is also notable for having never suffered a serious racing injury, an achievement made more remarkable by the lack of safety features in the cars of his era.

Following the death of teammate Wolfgang von Trips, who died in a crash that also killed 13 spectators during the 1961 Grand Prix of Italy, Robert Daley, a writer for the New York Times, recounted a conversation with Hill in an article entitled “Why Men Race With Death.” Hill was then 34.

“There are more don’ts than dos in the business,” Hill said. “Isn’t it a fine thing that von Trips died doing something he loved, without any suffering, without any warning? I think Trips would rather be dead than not race, don’t you?”

Hill is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children.

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Edwin Guthman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, died last week at 89 at his Pacific Palisades home. He suffered from a rare disease called amyloidosis.

Guthman was the Los Angeles Times’ national editor from 1965 to 1977, and subsequently served for a decade as editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 1950 for his stories in the Seattle Times on the House Un-American Activities Committee. His reporting cleared a University of Washington professor of allegations that he was a Communist supporter.

Guthman was also press secretary for Attorney General and later Senator Robert F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1965.  A staunch Kennedy loyalist in his private life, Guthman wrote or edited four books about the slain political icon.

In 1971, Guthman was the third name on a 20-name list of political opponents singled out for harassment in a memo sent from Nixon aide Charles Colson to aide John Dean. The memo described Guthman, then national editor for the Times, as “a highly sophisticated hatchet-man against us in ‘68.”

A journalism professor and senior lecturer at the University of Southern California from 1987 until his retirement last year, many noted journalists praised Guthman over the years.

“Ed Guthman was not only a great friend, but a great journalist,” Paul Conrad, a longtime political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times, said Monday.

“He exemplifies the ultimate journalist. I’m successful because of what (he) taught me,” CNN anchor and USC alumna Kyra Phillips said during a tribute at the university last year.

Tom Brokaw cited Guthman as one of the “greatest generation.” “I will always see Ed Guthman as citizen Ed Guthman,” Brokaw said.

In the 1990s, Guthman was a founding commissioner and a president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.

He also was one of three outside experts who reviewed — and harshly criticized — the 1993 federal standoff during the Clinton administration at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco, Texas, in which approximately 80 people lost their lives.

Born August 11, 1919, in Seattle, Guthman attended the University of Washington and worked as a reporter for the Seattle Star before he was drafted in World War II. He served in North Africa and Italy, was wounded, and received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his service.

Mr. Guthman is survived by three sons, a daughter and five grandchildren. 

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