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Richard S. Stevens dies at 80; had leadership roles with Disneyland Hotel and Queen Mary

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Richard S. Stevens, who had leadership roles with the Disneyland Hotel, Queen Mary and Balboa Bay Club during a wide-ranging business career, has died. He was 80.

Stevens died Oct. 14 in his sleep at his Newport Beach home, said his wife, Joan.

He worked more than 20 years for Wrather Corp. As president of Wrather Hotels, which included the Disneyland Hotel, he developed a plan for the company to lease the Queen Mary in Long Beach as a tourist attraction and display with it the Spruce Goose seaplane built by Howard Hughes.

Stevens was co-owner and president of the Balboa Club during the 1960s and '70s and was the Disneyland Hotel's president and chief executive from 1977 to 1982.

Stevens also was co-founder of the Bellport Group, which operated marinas throughout the world. He developed the Hamilton Cove project on Catalina Island, supervised a team that developed Marina Costa Baja in Mexico and was involved in developments in Arizona, Florida and elsewhere in California.

"He was just that person who loves the deal," said his daughter, Sandra Stevens Weston. "He always had irons in the fire."

Stevens was born July 4, 1930, in Long Beach to Margaret Virginia and Merrill Emerson Stevens. He attended high school in South Pasadena and in 1951 graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in business administration. In the early 1950s, Stevens served in the U.S. Army.

During the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, he was commissioner of the modern pentathlon competition held in the Orange County community of Coto de Caza. And in 1985 he was named president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Express, a United States Football League franchise.

Stevens was most proud of his work in Long Beach with the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose. In the early 1980s, Wrather Corp. planned a development in Long Beach that included building a dome adjacent to the Queen Mary to house the historic aircraft.

"He was a visionary," his wife said. "He would come up with ideas, ways to do things that were unusual."

Wrather eventually sold the Queen Mary. The Spruce Goose was moved to a museum in Oregon.

For the last three decades, Stevens faced severe health issues. In 2009, he and his wife wrote a book, "Never Give Up! The Six Secret Steps You Must Take To Protect Your Own Life."

In addition to his wife and daughter, Stevens is survived by his son, Chris, and stepchildren Lisa and Brad Levine. Stevens was preceded in death by his first wife, Joyce Whistler Stevens.

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