Categotry Archives: Business

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Cedric Price

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Categories: Business

Cedric John Price, a visionary architect, died on Aug. 10 of a heart attack. He was 68.
The eldest son of architect A.G. Price, Cedric earned a diploma at the Architectural Association School in London. He worked in the offices of Erno Goldfinger and Fry, Drew & Partners, then opened his own firm in 1960.
For more than 40 years, Price chose to work on projects that interested him, rather than paid the bills. While he designed the steel and mesh aviary at the London Zoo, Price’s ideas of creating a “university of the streets” and a mobile “higher education facility” failed to exist beyond his drawing board.

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Tony LaBarba

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Categories: Business

Anthony James LaBarba, a successful Dallas wine merchant, died on Aug. 10 of heart failure. He was 81.

LaBarba was born in Dallas to Sicilian immigrants. His father ran a fruit and vegetable company, and taught his 10 children how to stomp grapes in the wine cellar of their home. By the time he was a teenager, LaBarba was already learning the family business. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, he helped his father buy wine in California, bottling it and sell it.

LaBarba served in the Navy during World War II, then took over his father’s struggling wine business in 1947. By visiting European vineyards and developing a palate for fine wine, LaBarba was able to build up a multimillion-dollar wholesale wine business that sold to all the best restaurants and bars in Dallas.

LaBarba, the former president of American Wine and Importing Co., was also a board member of the Texas Hill Country Wine Festival.

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Merrill Cohen

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Categories: Business

Merrill Cohen’s father loved tropical fish, but he wouldn’t let his son get a puppy. Fish and dogs eventually became Cohen’s life-long pursuits.
Cohen grew up and became a dog breeder. Yorkshire terriers were his favorite breed, and during the 1950s and ’60s, he and his wife, Helen, won numerous prizes at dog shows around the country. Cohen eventually traveled the world as a judge for purebred dog competitions.
When he wasn’t training terriers, Cohen was nurturing his interest in tropical fish. He preferred to decorate his tanks with natural materials rather than plastic ornaments and plants, and he developed one of the first all-glass tanks without a metal rim. In the mid-1940s, Cohen opened The Aquarium, a Pikesville, Md., store devoted to selling and designing natural fish tanks. Twenty years later, he sold the business to an employee and launched Aquarium Products, one of the nation’s largest tropical fish wholesalers.
Cohen died on Aug. 6 of lung cancer. He was 75.

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Chung Mong-hun

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Categories: Business

Chung Mong-hun, chairman of the South Korean company Hyundai Asan, committed suicide on Aug. 4 by jumping off the 12th floor of his office building in Seoul. He was 54.
Mong-hun’s father, Chung Ju-young, turned an auto repair shop into South Korea’s largest business empire. After World War II ended, Chung Sr. joined forces with the U.S. and won contracts to rebuild the Han River bridge and construct the world’s largest shipyard at Ulsan. By 1947, Ju-young’s company, Hyundai, held interests in trading securities, shipbuilding, construction and car making. A year later, Chung Mong-hun was born.
Mong-hun graduated with a degree in Korean literature from Yonsei University. He joined Hyundai Heavy Industries in 1975, and became head of the group’s shipping interests within six years. His management style and loyalty impressed his father, and he was placed in charge of the corporation’s highly successful electronics ventures.
Tough economic conditions hit Asia in 1997, and the South Korean government called for the break-up of Hyundai. To comply with new corporate reform policies, the company was divided into three subgroups — one controlled by Hyundai Motor, the second led by Hyundai Heavy Industries and the third run by Mong-hun, which handled the rest of the former conglomerate’s interests.
Mong-hun’s involvement in arranging the historic summit between the two Koreas in 2000 led to an indictment for doctoring company books. The “cash-for-summit scandal” revealed that Hyundai-Asan secretly sent $100 million to North Korea in order to get the country’s leaders to agree to the summit. Mong-hun was also charged with embezzling $12.5 million in company funds, used to bribe government officials into providing political and financial support to Hyundai. If convicted, he would have faced three to five years in prison.

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Alex Gong

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Categories: Business, Sports

agong.jpgAlex Gong, a world champion kickboxer, was murdered in San Francisco on Aug. 1. He was 32.

Gong was working out at the training gym he owned when he saw a dark green Jeep Cherokee hit his car and drive off. Still wearing his boxing gloves, Gong pursued the Jeep on foot. He caught up to the Jeep when it stopped at a traffic light; the driver then shot him in the chest and sped away. After a 12-hour stand-off with police, Rodger Wayne Chastain, the man who claimed to be Gong’s killer, committed suicide.

Gong was born in New England. He spent a brief time at an orphanage in India, then was reunited with his mother and transplanted to California. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in business, Gong started studying karate, judo and tae kwon do.

In 1994, Gong discovered Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing. He took up the sport and eventually won several championships in the middleweight and welterweight classes. A dedicated competitor, Gong headlined fights at the MGM Grand and the Mirage in Las Vegas, and appeared on ESPN, HBO and the CBS TV show, “Walker, Texas Ranger” with Chuck Norris.

“Muay Thai kind of fits into the psyche of Americans, you know, like it has quick results and action and quick attention-getting scoring. And combat is about as real as sports get. When you have unlimited combat with class, rules, sophistication and actual talent, I think there is a true appreciation for that,” Gong once said.

Gong opened the San Francisco branch of the Fairtex Combat Sports Camp in 1996. It became the nation’s top Muay Thai training facility and the only one recognized by the World Muay Thai Council.

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