John Hotchkis, L.A. benefactor whose family homesteaded historic ranch land, dies at 86

John Finlay Hotchkis, a prominent Los Angeles benefactor and fourth-generation Californian whose family homesteaded the historic Rancho Los Alamitos, has died.

Hotchkis, who died Dec. 14, had a half-century-long association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, twice served on the UC Board of Regents and was a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.

His ancestors acquired the sprawling ranch land in what’s now Long Beach as part of a Spanish land trust in the 1870s, and ultimately gave the rancho to the city — along with the original adobe ranch house and barns — as a museum and educational center.

Hotchkis continued the family’s support of the rancho and was a benefactor to causes including Planned Parenthood and Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles and charitable efforts such as the Painted Turtle, a summer camp for children with serious medical conditions.

Active in civic and cultural groups through his life, Hotchkis also had an adventuresome side.

A fan of auto racing, he formed his own International Motor Sports Assn. team and raced at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring — all shrines of sports car racing.

Hotchkis and a group of friends also joined the St. Moritz Toboganning Club and competed as “Team LA’” in the famed Cresta Run in Switzerland for more than a decade.

A businessman, Hotchkis was the cofounder of Trust Company of the West, Hotchkis and Wiley. The firm was later sold to Merrill Lynch.

When he joined the L.A. Philharmonic, he assumed a board seat that had long been held by his mother — Katharine Bixby. He was chairman of the board when Disney Hall opened in 2003.

Hotchkis is survived by his wife, Joan; four children, John Jr., Sarah, Mark and Carey; and eight grandchildren. His first wife, Carolyn, died in 1983.

steve.marble@latimes.com

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Hotchkis' mother as Katherine Bixby. Her name was Katharine Bixby
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