W. Brashears; Developer Left His Mark on Fullerton
November 03, 2000|DAVID HALDANE | TIMES STAFF WRITER
William Brashears, a retired dentist, developer and controversial political figure whose early work in Fullerton had a major impact on that city, has been found dead.
Brashears, 77, apparently drowned in the swimming pool near his Rancho Mirage condominium over the weekend, his widow said Thursday.
"It will be a loss to all of us," Sue Brashears said. "He was definitely a leader, a great visionary, and he loved his city.”
Born in San Pedro, Brashears moved as a young boy with his parents to Fullerton where, in the 1940s, he became one of the city's first dentists. A developer at heart, he was a member of the partnership that built Fullerton's first medical office building at Harbor Boulevard and Berkeley Avenue. He later retired from dentistry and became a full-time developer in the mid-1960s.
Among Brashears' major projects were Brashears' Center, a 10-acre regional office and business complex at Harbor and Brea boulevards. [Photo below.] He also built some of Fullerton's first high-rise buildings and two popular restaurants--the Velvet Turtle and the Red Onion.
Some of his developments were controversial: A 1975 proposal to build a 226-unit apartment complex in the Fullerton redevelopment district became the target of citizen opposition and, later, the focus of a county grand jury investigation resulting in an indictment against a city planning commissioner for allegedly soliciting a $40,000 bribe. The commissioner was eventually acquitted.
Brashears' conservative Republican political leanings also occasionally got him into the news. After missing a filing deadline by three minutes, he ran as a write-in candidate for Congress in 1972. Brashears eventually withdrew his name from consideration. And 15 years later, his name surfaced again during the Iran-Contra hearings in Washington with the news that he had spearheaded an effort to raise $17,500 for the Contras, a right-wing group opposed to the government of Nicaragua.
Last Sunday, according to Sue Brashears, the couple were staying at their Rancho Mirage condo when William decided to soak in the Jacuzzi within the condo complex. He apparently then got out and went to the pool. "He probably got overheated," she said. "We just think that he lost his balance and either had a mini stroke or somehow fell into the deep end of the pool" a few feet away.
A passerby found Brashears floating face down in the pool about 15 minutes later. "He just didn't come out," Sue Brashears said. "He drowned."
A viewing is scheduled Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at McAulay & Wallace Mortuaries, 902 N. Harbor Blvd., in Fullerton. A memorial service is planned at the same location Thursday at 11 a.m.