Photo: San Francisco Examiner, November 22, 1962
Roger Dearborn Lapham, Jr.
Born November 11, 1918, New York City
Died January 2, 2000, Pebble Beach, California
Insurance executive Roger Lapham jumped in when Oakland co-owner Art Beckett decided he wanted out less than a month after the franchise was created. Lapham himself was out, eleven months later, as part of the team’s big reorganization in January 1961.
Lapham was the youngest son of Roger Lapham, Sr., a man who built his fortune in the shipping industry, became San Francisco’s mayor in the 1940s, and traveled in the highest echelon of Bay Area society. Roger, Jr., was raised accordingly, attending prestigious boarding schools and getting a college degree at Harvard. He married just before World War II, then entered the conflict as a naval officer.
After the war, he found an executive position with an insurance broker and, in 1949, made his first foray into electoral politics by running for a seat on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. He lost but remained active in Republican Party politics over the following decades. In 1956, Lapham was appointed to be the head of San Francisco’s planning commission by Mayor George Christopher, and he held that post for the next four years. He resigned in January 1960 to focus more on his private affairs and bought into the Raiders the following month. He was not among the more active members of the team’s leadership and he joined four other owners in selling his share of the team the following January.
He experienced continued success in the insurance industry, but still found plenty of time for other pursuits, notably holding the presidency of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from 1962 to 1967. He was also named to the board of directors of Safeway Stores and was part of the group that bought Golden Gate Fields racetrack in 1964. In 1968, he was named to the board of Wells Fargo Bank. He and his first wife, Nancy, divorced in 1969, and soon after, Lapham married actress and art patron, Phyllis Kyrides. The pair were among the darlings of the social pages for a year or two afterward.
By the mid-1970s, Lapham had receded from the spotlight other than making the occasional appearance in pro-am golf tournaments. He died on January 2, 2000, of complications from lymphoma. He left behind his wife and four children.