Ian Woodner, 87, a multimillionaire architect and developer who was known as a builder of offices and residential apartments in Washington and New York and as a leading art collector and patron of the arts, died of a heart attack yesterday at his home in New York City.
Mr. Woodner was founder and president of the Jonathan Woodner Co., which is best known in Washington as the owner of the Woodner Apartments on Upper 16th Street NW, which it built in the early 1950s. More recently the firm restored the old Evening Star building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The company specializes in design, construction and management of residential and commercial property in Washington, New York and Atlanta.
In the arts community, Mr. Woodner was known chiefly for his collection of old master and modern drawings, ranging from the 14th century to the present and including the work of artists from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France and Spain.
Andrew Robison, senior curator of prints and drawings at the National Gallery of Art, has described the Woodner collection as one of the finest private old master drawing collections in the world.
In 1984, a selection of 85 drawings from the collection went on display at the National Gallery. It included works by Albrecht Durer, Hans Holbein the Younger, Castiglione, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Rembrandt, Ingres, Seurat and Picasso.
Mr. Woodner's collection also included a definitive assembly of the work of the 19th century French symbolist painter, Odilon Redon, which has been exhibited at the Phillips Collection here. Art galleries in Vienna, Madrid, Munich and London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York also have exhibited selections from the Woodner collection.
A native of New York City, Mr. Woodner grew up in Minneapolis. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and received a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University. Later he traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle East on a Scheldon Fellowship and studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
As an architect in New York in the 1930s, he worked with Robert Moses on the design of the Central Park Zoo and with Salvadore Dali on the Birth of Venus Pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair. He designed the Pharmacy Building, where Willem de Kooning received one of his first commissions to create a mural.
In 1943, he founded the Jonathan Woodner Co., named after his son. The company's Woodner Apartments, a 1,139-unit complex costing $11 million, was one of the most luxurious in Washington at the time it was built. It was the subject of well-publicized litigation between the Woodner Co. and the Federal Housing Administration, which had insured the mortgage, over whether it was properly an apartment building or a hotel.
Mr. Woodner later was indicted and subsequently acquitted of charges that he had filed a false statement with the FHA in connection with the project. In 1962, he was convicted of income tax evasion for the years 1952 and 1953, and sentenced to 30 months in prison.
He began his serious art collecting in the 1950s. A 1958 acquisition of one of two extant drawings by the Florentine sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini is considered to be one of the most important 16th century drawings in the United States. Mr. Woodner is said to have acquired the Cellini for $18,000, and the drawing is said now to be worth more than 20 times that amount.
Another of his most prized drawings was a 1524 work of Durer, "Left Wing of a European Roller."
A painter in his own right, Mr. Woodner exhibited his watercolors and pastels in New York, Munich and Jerusalem.
He was a member of the trustees council of the National Gallery of Art, which inscribed his name on a marble wall in the East Building as donor of $1 million to its patrons' permanent fund. He also gave $1 million to the Harvard School of Architecture to endow a professorial chair. He served on the board of the Phillips Collection. He donated paintings and drawings from his collection to several art museums.
His marriage to Ruth Woodner ended in divorce.
His son, Jonathan Woodner, who oversaw the Washington holdings of the family company, died in a private airplane crash in Montgomery County in 1988.
Survivors include two daughters, Andrea Woodner of Washington and Dian Woodner of New York, and two grandchildren.
Robert Mars, 87, the retired owner and president of the R. Mars Co., a furniture sales business, and M&M Leasing, a furniture-leasing company, died of a heart attack Oct. 31 at his home in Bethesda.
Mr. Mars was a past board member of the Washington chapters of the National Urban League and CARE and a member of the District of Columbia advisory council of the Small Business Administration.
He had been a member of the D.C. Democratic Central Committee, where he served in the 1940s and 1950s as a publicity chairman and then treasurer.
Mr. Mars established his company in Washington in 1934. Over the years, the company added branches in Baltimore, New York City, Ocean City, Md., Atlanta, Atlantic City, and prior to 1960, Havana.
It expanded into the wholesale merchandising of furniture, rugs, carpets, linens and electrical appliances to homes, colleges, hotels and other businesses. In the mid-1950s, he established what was then the Mars Leasing Corp. He retired in 1980.
Mr. Mars was a native of New York City and a graduate of Columbia University. He came to Washington in 1926 as an executive management trainee at the Hecht Co. He was a buyer there until starting his own business.
Mr. Mars was a member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and Woodmont Country Club.
Survivors include his wife, Edith Kirstein Mars of Bethesda; two daughters, Patricia Guss of Gaithersburg and Pamela Malester of Baltimore; a sister, Hilda Weiss of Highland Beach, Fla.; and two grandchildren.
VINCENT L. O'DONNELL
Vincent L. O'Donnell, 71, a retired managing director of the old Private Carrier Conference of the American Trucking Association, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 31 at the Carriage Hill nursing home in Bethesda,
Mr. O'Donnell, a resident of Chevy Chase, was born in Coaldale, Pa. He moved to Washington in 1936 and went to work for the Trucking Association. He also graduated from George Washington University, where he attended night school. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces in Europe.
In 1946, the Private Carrier Conference was started as part of the Trucking Association to represent private trucking fleets. Mr. O'Donnell was named secretary of the new organization. Two years later, he became managing director. He continued in that post until 1983, when he retired.
Mr. O'Donnell was credited with building the conference into an organization of 4,000 members with a full schedule of meetings and lobbying services. The conference is now part of the National Private Truck Council.
Mr. O'Donnell was a member of the National Press Club and the Little Flower Catholic Church in Bethesda.
Survivors include his wife, Lora O'Donnell, whom he married in 1962, of Chevy Chase; a son, David O'Donnell of Sacramento, Calif.; a brother, Edward J. O'Donnell of Severna Park; and a sister, Ann McGorry of Nesquehoning, Pa.
ARLENE HANCOCK KELLIEBREW
Arlene Hancock Kelliebrew, 49, chief of the director's correspondence unit in the public information office of the D.C. Department of Corrections, died of cancer Oct. 28 at George Washington University Hospital.
Mrs. Kelliebrew was a lifelong resident of Washington and a graduate of Spingarn High School.
She worked 32 years for the D.C. government in a variety of clerical and administrative jobs at the D.C. Department of Human Services, the Department of Environmental Services, the D.C. Council, the Board of Education and the Department of Corrections.
Her marriage to William Jackson ended in divorce.
Survivors include her husband, Robert Kelliebrew, her parents, Warren W. and Jacqueline Hancock, and a brother, Gary Hancock, all of Washington; a sister, Juanita Grillo of Hillcrest Heights; and a grandfather, Robert Hancock of Washington.
FRANCES H. SIMON
Frances H. Simon, 95, a retired personnel official with the U.S. Tariff Commission, died of pneumonia Oct. 30 at Althea Woodland nursing home in Silver Spring.
Miss Simon, a resident of Silver Spring, was born in Philadelphia. She moved to Washington in 1918 and went to work at the Tariff Commission, which became the International Trade Commission. She retired in 1960.
She was a member of the Tuesday Evening Club, a singing group in Washington, and the parish of St. Bernadette's Catholic Church and the Sodality at St. Michael's Catholic Church, both in Silver Spring.
She leaves no immediate survivors.
A.N. Wecksler, 77, the retired Washington bureau chief of Cahners Publications, a New York-based magazine publishing company, died of cancer Nov. 1 at George Washington University Hospital. He lived in Washington.
Mr. Wecksler was a Washington native. He graduated from the old Central High School and attended George Washington University. In the mid-1930s, he worked as a reporter at The Washington Post. About 1940, he established the National Magazine Feature Service, a business magazine news service.
During World War II, he was a war correspondent in the Pacific for what was then Conover-Mast Publications, a New York business magazine publishing company.
After the war, he covered the Berlin Airlift for Conover-Mast. He returned here in the late 1940s as the company's Washington bureau chief. He also operated the National Magazine Feature Service with his wife, Julia Bonwit Wecksler. He retired in the mid-1980s.
Mrs. Wecksler died in 1977.
Survivors include two children, Geoffrey M. Wecksler of Annapolis and Margo Wecksler of Green Brae, Calif.; a sister, Esther Lightman of Montreal; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.