Former state Sen. Richard Richards, who represented Los Angeles County between 1954 and 1962 when it was the largest state legislative district in the nation, died Wednesday of cancer at UCLA Medical Center. He was 72.
Richards, a Democrat, ran for the U.S. Senate in 1956 and 1962, being defeated both times by Republican Thomas Kuchel.
Richards, whose legislative district had a population of 5 million, was among the top Democrats in Southern California.
While in the state Senate, Richards played a key role in the passage of the California Water Project. He also served as chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee from 1950-52 and helped form the California Democratic Council.
After leaving office, Richards returned to the private law practice he helped found in the early 1950s, becoming a senior partner in the 60-lawyer firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Ia., on Dec. 9, 1916, Richards moved to Southern California with his family as a child. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from USC.
He is survived by a son, Kim, and a daughter, Leslie.
Services will be Dec. 10, at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.
A complete obituary will appear in Friday's editions.