Obituaries of note: George M. Cochran, William Schreyer, Wayne Grisham, Bruce Gordon, Bernd Eichinger

January 26, 2011
George M. Cochran
Virginia jurist

George M. Cochran, 98, a former Virginia Supreme Court justice and state legislator, died of unreported causes Jan. 22 at his home in Staunton.

In 1969, Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. appointed Mr. Cochran to the Supreme Court. He was elected and re-elected to the court by the General Assembly, and he retired from the bench in 1987.

He served as a state delegate from 1948 to 1965 and as a state senator from 1966 to 1968. He also was chairman of the Courts of Justice panel and the Woodrow Wilson Centennial Commission of Virginia, and he served as a trustee of the Virginia Historical Society.

Mr. Cochran advocated for keeping schools open during Virginia's "Massive Resistance," the state-sanctioned response to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

"He was one of just a small handful of people that had the courage to buck the dominant opinion in Virginia of massive resistance," historian Katharine Brown told the News Leader of Staunton. "That took courage and was a remarkable thing that he did."

William Schreyer
Merrill Lynch executive

William Schreyer, 83, a former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch who led its transition from a stock brokerage to a diversified global investment bank, died Jan. 22 at his home in Princeton, N.J. The cause of death was not reported.

Mr. Schreyer had a 45-year career at Merrill Lynch and led the firm from 1985 to 1993. He became a familiar face in TV commercials after the 1987 stock market crash, telling viewers: "At Merrill Lynch, we're still bullish on America."

Mr. Schreyer was born in Williamsport, Pa., where his father managed the local office of a stock brokerage that Merrill Lynch later acquired. He worked there part time while in high school and joined Merrill Lynch as a junior executive trainee after graduating in 1948 from Penn State.

He became head of the firm's Trenton, N.J., office in 1963 and then held a succession of positions in its retail branch office system before becoming the New York metropolitan area regional director in 1972. He became head of Merrill Lynch's government securities subsidiary the following year.

Mr. Schreyer became Merrill Lynch's president in 1982 and was named chief executive and chairman in 1985.

Wayne Grisham
California congressman

Wayne Grisham, 88, a two-term Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from La Mirada, Calif., who also served in the California State Assembly, died Jan. 19 at a hospice in Whittier, Calif. He died of respiratory failure stemming from complications from pneumonia.

Mr. Grisham had been a La Mirada city councilman and mayor when he was elected in 1978 to represent a U.S. House district that included La Mirada, Whittier, Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, Santa Fe Springs, Rowland Heights, Diamond Bar and parts of the City of Industry, Pomona and Walnut.

Mr. Grisham was reelected in 1980 but lost in 1982 after redistricting.

Mr. Grisham became director of the Peace Corps in Kenya in 1983 before returning to politics. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1984. He tried unsuccessfully to move to the state Senate in a special election in 1987 and then lost a reelection bid to the Assembly in 1988.

Bruce Gordon
actor

Bruce Gordon, an actor who played a mobster on the television series "The Untouchables" from 1959 to 1963, died Jan. 20 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 94. No cause of death was reported.

Before taking on his most famous role as mobster Frank Nitti in "The Untouchables," Mr. Gordon played police officers, detectives, prosecutors and cowboys.

He appeared on such television programs as "The Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Gunsmoke," "Maverick" "Perry Mason" and "Bonanza."

Bernd Eichinger
film producer, director

Bernd Eichinger, 61, a German-born movie producer, director and screenplay writer whose production credits included "The NeverEnding Story" and "Downfall," died Jan. 24 in Los Angeles after a heart attack.

One of Mr. Eichinger's recent successful productions was "Downfall," for which he also wrote the screenplay. The movie depicts the last days of Nazi Germany in Adolf Hitler's bunker and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005.

Mr. Eichinger also produced "The Name of the Rose" (1986), starring Sean Connery, and "The House of the Spirits" (1993), starring Meryl Streep.

- From news services