Stanley Norris Petit; Aviation, Ranching Pioneer


Stanley Norris Petit, known for his pioneering efforts in ranch operations and aviation in the San Fernando Valley, has died. He was 96.

Petit, who died Tuesday, and his father, William Justin Petit, owned and operated Encino Rancho, the largest single parcel of property in the Valley before the Sepulveda Basin and Birmingham Hospital (now Birmingham High School) were built.

After subdividing the ranch, Petit Avenue--which runs across the Valley to Encino--was named for the elder Petit. An aviation enthusiast, Stanley Petit owned one of the first private airplanes in the Valley and was the first to land his aircraft at Van Nuys Airport.

"He was an outgoing and generous man who made numerous friends; it is amazing that so many people were touched by him," said son James Petit. "He was not hesitant to go out and help someone do anything, any place or any time."

Born in Oxnard on Jan. 13, 1904, Petit and his family moved to the Valley in 1911, the year Van Nuys township was founded. He was student body president at Van Nuys High School, where he received his diploma in 1923. He pledged Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity at Occidental College in Los Angeles and earned his degree in 1928.

Justin Petit Ranch House, a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1896 at Heritage Square in Oxnard and designated a Ventura County landmark in 1986, is named for Petit's grandfather, one of the county's most successful farmers of lima beans, sugar beets and lemons.

After college, Stanley Norris Petit married Mary Jane Keffer, whose father, Frank M. Keffer, founded the Los Angeles Daily News. The newlyweds built the first house in Sherman Oaks in 1929, where he lived until his death.

Petit, whose wife preceded him in death in 1995, is survived by a son, James W. Petit; a daughter, Marjorie L. Teach; three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 today at Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church, 4445 Noble Ave. Internment will follow at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, relatives have asked that donations be made to Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church.

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