PASSINGS: John Randolph Hearst Jr., John R. Opel

John Randolph Hearst Jr.

Grandson and heir of William Randolph Hearst

John Randolph Hearst Jr., 77, a grandson of media titan William Randolph Hearst and heir to the family fortune, died Friday in New York, Hearst Corp. said in a statement. The cause was not disclosed.

Nicknamed “Bunky,” Hearst spent most of his career at the company his grandfather founded. Besides serving on the board, he was a trustee of the Hearst Family Trust and a director of the Hearst Foundations.


He also worked for Hearst publications, including as a news photographer for the New York Daily Mirror in the 1950s and as an editor for Motor Boating & Sailing magazine.

He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1989, but several months later, he married 50-year-old Barbara Hearst. The marriage lasted until 2004, when Barbara Hearst filed for divorce, accusing him of constructive abandonment and cruel and inhumane treatment.

In 2007, in the midst of legal proceedings, Barbara Hearst asked a state Supreme Court judge to increase her monthly support to $90,000 from $26,000.

The judge instead reduced it to $20,000, suggesting Bunky Hearst’s wife had looted his estate by going on a spending spree with his money and investment accounts. The judge also recounted how, according to court papers, Hearst’s wife entered his bedroom with two process servers and told him, “We can do it ugly, or we can do it nice.… Remember one thing: I’m much smarter than you are.”

Bunky Hearst was born in New York on Dec. 8, 1933, to John Randolph Hearst and Gretchen Wilson and spent his youth at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. He said his nickname came from a character in one of his grandfather’s newspapers, the New York Journal-American.

John R. Opel

Former IBM chief led the company into the personal computer age

John R. Opel, 86, who led International Business Machines Corp. into the personal computer age in the 1980s, died Thursday. IBM announced his death but gave no other details.


In 1949, Opel joined IBM as a salesman and rose to become its chief executive from 1981 to 1985.

During his tenure, the U.S. Justice Department dropped a 13-year-old antitrust lawsuit against IBM, which enabled it to compete more aggressively in the home-computer market. The first IBM personal computer was introduced in August 1981.

The company’s revenue nearly doubled under Opel’s leadership, and in 1983 Time magazine put him on the cover beneath the headline: “The Colossus that Works.”

Bullish on the future for information technology, Opel told Time: “The demand for information processing, though perhaps not infinite, is enormous.”


After he left IBM, the company eventually sold its PC business and other hardware operations to focus on software and services.

John Roberts Opel was born Jan. 5, 1925, in Kansas City, Mo. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Missouri’s Westminster College and in 1949 earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Chicago.

He soon went fishing with his father and a friend who was an IBM sales manager, who persuaded him to join the firm. Opel held a number of executive positions in the 1960s and 1970s before serving as IBM’s president from 1974 to 1983.

— Times staff and wire reports