CBS Executive and Outdoors Lover

Richard William Jencks, '46, JD '48

November/December 2014

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CBS Executive and Outdoors Lover

Photo: John Jencks

Richard William Jencks was more than an attorney. His storied career included stints with the National Association of Broadcasters, the Alliance of Television Film Producers and CBS Broadcast Group; he served as CBS's Washington lobbyist when the network came under attack by the Nixon administration in the 1970s for alleged sex and violence on broadcast television. And he was an avid outdoorsman whose family founded the Fallen Leaf Lake resort near Lake Tahoe, Calif. (now Stanford Sierra Camp).

Jencks, '46, JD '48, died on June 30 in Mill Valley, Calif., at 93 as the result of a fall and subsequent stroke.

World War II interrupted Jencks's college studies at UC-Berkeley in 1941. His active duty included serving as the commanding officer of harbor defense vessels that installed antisubmarine and anti-torpedo nets in both the Aleutian Islands and the Caribbean. After the war ended, he earned undergraduate and graduate law degrees at Stanford.

Jencks started his career in Washington, D.C., as associate general counsel of the National Alliance of Broadcasters. He left D.C. to become West Coast resident attorney for CBS Inc. in Los Angeles and later president of the Alliance of Television Film Producers. He returned to CBS in the role of general counsel, rising to vice president and board member until his retirement in 1976.

While in Washington, Jencks was appointed chair of the general media committee of the National Endowment for the Arts, and in California, he was appointed distinguished visiting professor of communications at San Diego State University. He also served on the board of the UC-Berkeley Foundation. At 85, he wrote and delivered a daily commentary entitled "2 Minutes with Richard" that aired on KSCO radio in Santa Cruz.

Jencks grew up sailing, hiking and camping at the Fallen Leaf Lake resort, founded by his great-aunt Bertha de Laguna and her husband, Billy Price. In 1959, the Stanford Alumni Association purchased 20 acres of the resort, and Stanford Sierra Camp, a popular destination for alumni and their families, was launched.

His daughter, Nancy, '74, said, "I always cherished my father's playful spirit, his gift for wit and his command of language that allowed him to express himself more poignantly than anyone I've ever known."

In addition to his daughter, Jencks is survived by his wife, Mary; son, Michael; stepchildren, Martha Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett Snyder and George Barrett III; and two grandchildren.

Julie Muller Mitchell, '79, is a writer in San Francisco.

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