Jack C. Crose, a retired lobbyist and former aide to state Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh who accompanied Robert F. Kennedy during the 1968 Democratic primary campaign, died Oct. 25 of Alzheimer's disease, his family said. He was 88.
Mr. Crose spent 32 years at the state Capitol as a legislative staff member and lobbyist, starting in 1961 as assistant to Speaker Ralph M. Brown. He became chief of staff for Unruh, a national Democratic Party figure who supported Kennedy for president in 1968.
As a campaign aide, Mr. Crose was with Kennedy in Los Angeles when he was declared winner of the California primary in June 1968. He escorted Kennedy from his suite at the Ambassador Hotel and stood near the podium as the candidate addressed supporters in the ballroom. Afterward, he walked a few steps in front as Kennedy headed to a service elevator in the kitchen, where he was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan.
Mr. Crose attended Kennedy's funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Riding the train that carried Kennedy's body to Washington, he saw thousands of mourners lining the tracks and stations along the way.
"He said it was without a doubt the most emotional thing he had ever seen happen," said his wife, Nadine.
Mr. Crose left government to be a private lawyer and lobbyist from 1969 to 1993. He was a founding member and past president of the Institute of Governmental Advocates, a professional group representing Capitol lobbyists.
Born in 1924 in Crain, Mo., he moved at an early age with his parents to Tulare. His father worked as a newspaper printer and owned a hobby shop, where Mr. Crose became interested in model airplanes and flying.
He served in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 and B-29 navigator in the Pacific during World War II. He earned a journalism degree from Fresno State College in 1949 and began working as a reporter at the Visalia Times Delta before joining the Modesto Bee.
He also owned a flying school and plane rental business in Modesto. One of his students was the wife of Speaker Brown, who offered him a staff job.
Mr. Crose married Nadine Stephenson in 1950, raised two daughters and lived in Sacramento for 51 years. A pilot who owned 10 planes during his lifetime, he flew his family on trips in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
As a top Assembly staff member, he helped set up a legislative internship program for college students. He also studied law and graduated from McGeorge College of Law in 1966.
Mr. Crose urged a young staff worker who enrolled at McGeorge, Michael Manley, to stay in school while working full time at the Capitol. Manley took the advice and earned a law degree in 1970.
"Jack was a seemingly tough guy on the outside but a real friend once you got to know him," Manley said. "He mentored many young staff people just getting their start in government."
Jack C. Crose
Born: April 15, 1924
Died: Oct. 25, 2012
Survived by: Wife, Nadine Crose of Sacramento; daughters, Yana Kennedy of Huntington Beach, and Megan Crose of Sacramento; one granddaughter