John Reading, 85; as Mayor, Expanded the Oakland Airport

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

John Reading, 85, who backed the building of the Oakland Coliseum and expanded the Oakland airport while serving as the city’s mayor from 1966 to 1977, died Feb. 7 in Indian Wells. The cause of death was not announced.

Handpicked to fill a seat on the Oakland City Council in 1961, Reading was elected to a three-year term in 1963. He was appointed mayor in 1966 after the then-mayor was forced to resign. Reading was later elected to a two-year term and two four-year terms.

Before entering politics, he headed Ingram’s Food Products Co., an Oakland enterprise founded by his grandfather in 1924. Reading sold the company, which produced Red’s Tamales, Joanna Bananas, Eric’s Sauces, tortillas and other products, in 1972.

Born in 1917 in Glendale, Ariz., he moved to Oakland as a child. He earned a degree in business administration from UC Berkeley in 1940 and served as a pilot in the Army Air Forces during World War II.


After leaving office in 1977, Reading ran a garlic and onion extract company and developed a method to prevent bananas used in baby food from turning brown.