Allan K. Jonas dies at 91; developer and volunteer

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Allan K. Jonas, a Los Angeles real estate developer and a longtime leader and volunteer with the American Cancer Society, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civic and political groups in Southern California, has died. He was 91.

Jonas died Sunday at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica of complications from pneumonia, his son Tony Jonas said.

A resident of Los Angeles since 1948, Allan Jonas built his real estate career in the 1950s when he began purchasing and constructing commercial properties near Los Angeles International Airport, which had just started to be used for commercial airline service.

From 1960 to 1963, he served in government, appointed by Gov. Pat Brown as director of the California Disaster Office, the state's emergency services headquarters.

An active volunteer with the Democratic Party and many civic causes, Jonas was president of the Los Angeles County branch of the American Cancer Society in the late 1960s and was later chairman of the organization's national board of directors.

Speaking at a 1980 dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Jonas' honor, actor Gregory Peck, also a longtime volunteer with the cancer group, described Jonas as "probably the most persistent non-paid volunteer in the history of the Cancer Society."

Jonas was also a former chairman of LA's BEST, an after-school enrichment, education and recreation program, vice president of the nonprofit Constitutional Rights Foundation and a leader of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Jonas and his wife Dorothy also helped found the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center and were active, early supporters of the National Organization for Women.

Allan K. Jonas was born in Cleveland on June 13, 1921, to Murray and Pearl Jonas. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School with a degree in finance in 1943 and then entered the Navy, serving as a torpedo officer in the Pacific theater during World War II.

After the war, he lived in New York, where he met and married his first wife, Margery Ann Lightfoot, from whom he was later divorced. The couple had two sons. In 1961, he married the former Dorothy N. Briscoe, who had two children of her own.

In addition to his wife and son Tony, Jonas' survivors include his sons Andy Jonas and Larry Kessenick, his daughter Bonnie Sloane, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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