As chief executive, Harry Gray helped United Technologies transform into a $17-billion conglomerate. (Mark Mirko)
Harry J. Gray

Former CEO of United Technologies

Harry J. Gray, 89, the retired United Technologies Corp. chief executive who is credited with transforming the company into an industrial conglomerate, died Wednesday in Hartford, Conn., according to his family. The cause was not given.

Gray, who became president of what was then United Aircraft Corp. in 1971, was chairman and chief executive from 1972 to 1986.

The Hartford-based United Technologies, the parent of jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, Otis Elevator, Sikorsky Aircraft and other businesses, credits Gray with leading it from a $2-billion defense company to a $17-billion diversified conglomerate. It posted revenue of $58.68 billion in 2008.

Before arriving at United Technologies, Gray was chief financial officer at Litton Industries.

In retirement, Gray and his wife, Helen, contributed to organizations that included Hartford Hospital, University of Hartford, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois, Mark Twain House in Hartford and other organizations, United Technologies said.

Gray was born Harry Jack Grusin in Milledgeville Crossroads, Ga., on Nov. 18, 1919. He lived with an older sister in Chicago after his mother died of cancer when he was 6.

He received a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois in 1941 and served in the Army during World War II. He returned to the University of Illinois and received a master's degree in marketing and advertising in 1947.

Gray sold trucks and school buses in Chicago. In 1950, he became executive vice president and general manager of the Greyvan Lines division of the Greyhound Corp.

In 1951, he changed his name from Grusin to Gray, after a short marriage. He later said the change was because he was broke, looking for a fresh start in business.

He became president of U.S. Engineering, a Van Nuys division of Litton Industries, and held that job until 1954, when he joined the parent corporation as a vice president.

Ric Hardman

Screenwriter also wrote novels

Ric Hardman, 84, a writer of screenplays, TV scripts and novels, mostly in the western genre, died in his sleep June 29 at his home in Los Angeles, his son Chris said. He had cancer.

For the big screen, Hardman wrote "Gunman's Walk," a 1958 western starring Van Heflin and Tab Hunter, and "The Rare Breed," another western from 1966 featuring James Stewart.

In the early 1960s, Hardman wrote for the western TV series "Lawman" using his name as well as a pen name, Bronson Howitzer.

He later turned to writing novels, including "Fifteen Flags," a 1968 story about American troops fighting in Siberia during the Russian Civil War of 1919-20, and "Sunshine Rider," a 1998 novel that Hardman called the first vegetarian western and a Boston Globe reviewer called "delicious whimsy."

Richards Hardman was born Nov. 8, 1924, in Seattle. He served in the Marines during World War II and studied at the University of Washington and UCLA's film school before starting his writing career.

Waldo McBurney

Deemed nation's oldest worker

Waldo McBurney, 106, who was named America's oldest worker and gained fame in his later years as a competitive runner and beekeeper, died Wednesday at the Gove County Medical Center in his hometown of Quinter, Kan.

In 2006, he was named America's oldest worker by the Washington-based Experience Works, which provides training and employment for senior citizens. At age 104, he was able most days to walk the few blocks from his home to his downtown office in Quinter, a High Plains farming community.

He was born Oct. 3, 1902, and his life spanned an age of horse-drawn buggies to computers. As a child, he got his first paying job at 13 guiding a lead team of horses pulling a wheat thresher. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1927, he worked in various jobs: teacher, county extension agent, tax preparer, manager of a local co-op.

He started a seed-cleaning business in the 1950s and ran it until he was 91.

McBurney then took his decades-old hobby of beekeeping and turned it into a business selling honey, which he sold last year after saying he was slowing down.

He had enjoyed running since childhood and at 65 took up long-distance running. A decade later he began competing in the Senior Olympics, the World Masters and other events.

He stopped competing in 2004 and wrote his autobiography, "My First 100 Years: A Look Back from the Finish Line."

-- Times Staff and Wire Reports