PASSINGS: Arthur F. Gardner, Lucille Beserra Roybal

Arthur F. Gardner

Former L.A. school board president


Arthur F. Gardner, 93, a former Los Angeles school board member who twice served as its president, died Friday at an assisted living center in Costa Mesa.

He had been in hospice care since suffering a stroke in mid-December, a relative said.

Gardner, who worked as a pilot for Western Airlines and was also a practicing attorney, served on the Board of Education from 1951 to 1955 and again from 1959 to 1971. A moderate Republican, he was chosen as board president for two one-year terms, in 1960-61 and in 1969-70.

In 1964, Gardner defended the school district's early efforts to integrate its schools in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee investigating racial and urban problems.

After leaving the school board, he served as chairman of the Council for Peace and Equality in Education, a group of business and professional leaders created in 1977 to support peaceful implementation of school desegregation in Los Angeles.

The group, which included fervent integrationists and others who opposed the concept, was often criticized by both sides. It took a careful path, neither for nor against the court-ordered mandatory school busing that began in the district in 1978, and often simply urged people to obey the law.

When it disbanded in June 1980, Gardner said he thought some good had been done. "The fact that we were in place, representative of a wide spectrum of opinion, I think had some benefit in mitigating and mediating the impact of the desegregation orders," he told the Times.

Gardner was born in Batavia, N.Y., on May 14, 1919. He graduated from DePauw University in Indiana and in 1951 received a law degree from USC. A resident of Southern California since 1943, he served in the Marine Corps during World War II.

Lucille Beserra Roybal

Noted Latino community activist

Lucille Beserra Roybal, 95, who received national recognition for her grass-roots activism in the Latino community and who was the widow of U.S. Rep. Edward R. Roybal, died Dec. 23 in Los Angeles. The city named a family resource center in Boyle Heights in her honor. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-East Los Angeles) is one of her three children.

Times staff reports