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Retailer Ken Crane Dies At 85

TV retail pioneer Ken Crane, founder of the eight-store Los Angeles A/V chain that bears his name, died at the age of 85.

Charles Kenneth Crane began his CE career working at an RCA plant in Indianapolis and later opened his first TV-only store in 1949 with a $3,500 loan from his father. Six years later, Ken Cranes became the first single-line retailer for Magnavox, which in the mid-1950s was an exclusive, high-prestige franchise.

In recent years, Ken handed off day-to-day operations to his son Casey and daughter Pam as the company, in anticipation of digital and high-definition TV, transformed itself into a home theater destination for Orange County, Calif.

“He was one of the first to embrace HD,” recalled Tom Campbell, a company director. “He was one of the best retailers I ever knew, and was also a wonderful human being who cared for his employees and customers.”

Crane’s family concurred. “Ken was the quintessential caretaker of everyone from his family, to friends and employees,” the Crane family said in a statement. “Ken always thought of his employees as extended family members.”

They continued, “Ken had deep-rooted Midwestern values of always working hard, and had tremendous love for his family. No matter how successful he became, he was always an Indiana farmer at heart.”