Theodore Jaffe, 94, a lawyer appointed by President John F. Kennedy as commissioner of foreign claims and in later years an executive with Time Warner Inc., died Oct. 16 of respiratory failure at his home in Bethesda. He had lived in the Washington area since 1945.
Mr. Jaffe was appointed commissioner of foreign claims in 1960, after running Kennedy's presidential campaign in New York. As one of three commissioners, his primary duties involved representing the interests of U.S. citizens who had claims against the German government and other foreign governments growing out of World War II. He continued to serve until 1971.
About that time, Mr. Jaffe's dentist, Turkish American Vahdi Sabit, introduced him to Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder in 1947 of Atlantic Records and a Turkish immigrant. When Warner Brothers made an offer to buy Atlantic Records in 1971, Mr. Jaffe helped Ertegun put together the deal. He subsequently became vice president of Atlantic Records and later vice president of Warner Communications.
Among his duties was, in December 1977, determining why the Sex Pistols, labeled "the world's most notorious punk rock band" and featuring Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten, were denied a visa by the U.S. Embassy in London on the eve of their first American tour.
Mr. Jaffe, a conservative, dapper man who always wore a bow tie, told The Washington Post that he was "trying to get a reading on this thing." He noted that "none of these kids committed any heinous crimes, they're what we call misdemeanors, they never had a day in jail and they never paid any serious, substantial fines."
Theodore Jaffe was born in Providence, R.I., and graduated from Brown University in 1932 and Harvard Law School in 1935.
Shortly after receiving his law degree, he became a law partner with Judge John P. Cooney in the Rhode Island law firm of Cooney & Kernan. In 1936, at the age of 26, he became president of the Rhode Island Liquor Association and then the National Liquor Association.
He served in the Army from 1939 to 1945. After the war, he went into private practice in Washington with defense lawyer Nicholas Chase. He was with the firm for 15 years, until his appointment to the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission.
In his work as a lawyer in the entertainment industry, Mr. Jaffe was counsel to numerous recording artists and actors, including the Rolling Stones, Quincy Jones and Sonny and Cher. He also helped with the drafting of legislation guaranteeing royalties to performers when their music is played on the radio.
His niece, Sandy Ressin, recalled attending a Rolling Stones concert with her uncle when he was in his seventies. She recalled needing earplugs for herself; she wondered about the older man sitting beside her and listening to the ear-splitting sounds of Mick Jagger and friends. Mr. Jaffe also helped arrange Jagger's 50th-birthday visit to the United States.
Irving Jaffe recalled that when his elder brother turned 70, he expected a pink slip to be waiting for him on his desk. His employer, by then known as Time Warner, didn't know or didn't care that he was retirement age and beyond, so he kept working for 20 more years. An avid walker, he enjoyed strolling from his Bethesda home to the bus that took him to the Metro and his downtown office.
He retired as vice president of Time Warner Inc. in 2000, at age 90.
Mr. Jaffe endowed scholarship funds at Brown University and was a founding member of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, where he served on the board of directors and is honored with a namesake garden.
Survivors include his brother, of Bethesda.