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Sunday, April 13, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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E. Keating, Ramparts founder

Los Angeles Times

Edward Keating, an activist who founded Ramparts magazine in the 1960s and watched it grow from a tiny Catholic-oriented publication to become the leading magazine of the American left, has died. He was 77.

Mr. Keating, who became a West Coast leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement, died April 2 at Stanford University Medical Center near Palo Alto, Calif., after battling pneumonia. He lived in nearby Mountain View.

A lawyer-turned-businessman who converted to Roman Catholicism in his late 20s, Mr. Keating launched Ramparts in 1962 in Menlo Park as a quarterly literary forum for Catholic intellectuals. It soon evolved into something more.

"He started getting stories by black priests who were talking about civil rights," said Mr. Keating's son Mike. "It sort of naturally morphed into getting more and more interesting articles about the civil-rights movement and taking a strong moral stance on that."

In time, he said, Ramparts "became completely secular and very committed to the civil-rights movement and the anti-war movement."

Ramparts' influence was significant, and its pages served as an outlet for the kinds of stories that were not being published elsewhere.

Ramparts printed early articles about the murders of three civil-rights workers in Mississippi, for example, and it exposed the Central Intelligence Agency's secret financing of the National Students Association.

An issue of Ramparts that featured dozens of pictures of wounded Vietnamese children also prompted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly come out against the war for the first time, said Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford.

"Ramparts was one of the most significant publications expressing the viewpoints of the New Left," said Carson, who had known Mr. Keating since the 1960s. "While it only had a short history, it had a major impact in terms of shaping opinions about civil-rights and anti-war issues."

Ramparts attracted writers such as Susan Sontag, Seymour Hersh, Robert Scheer (who later became the magazine's editor) and John Howard Griffin, author of the best-selling 1961 book "Black Like Me," who became a close family friend.

Impressed with the poetry of imprisoned Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, Mr. Keating gave him a job as a writer when he was released from prison; Cleaver acknowledged Mr. Keating in the dedication of his 1968 book "Soul on Ice" as "the first professional to pay any attention to my writing."

Stephen Keating described his father as "a champion of the underdog or the dispossessed. He just had a strong sense of conscience, and he just felt fired up to jump into the fray."

Mr. Keating wrote "The Scandal of Silence," a 1965 book about the Catholic Church and its silence over the Holocaust during World War II. He left the church about the same time.

Last month, before he became ill, Mr. Keating donated recordings he made in the 1960s with Black Panther leaders to Stanford University.

Ramparts, which at its peak had a circulation of nearly 400,000, continued to operate until 1975.

The son of an industrialist, Mr. Keating was born in New York in 1925. His family moved to California in 1940.

Mr. Keating served three years in the Navy in the Pacific, then resumed his studies at Stanford and graduated from its law school in 1950.

Mr. Keating wrote short stories, novellas and "Broken Bough," a 1975 book about human nature.

In addition to sons Mike and Stephen Keating, he is survived by four other children — Karen Keating McCann of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Melissa Keating Masland of Lafayette, Calif.; Kate Keating Bowles of San Anselmo, Calif.; and John Keating of Salem, Ore. — and six grandchildren.

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