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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Ex-Safeco CEO Trafton dies

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Roland Milton “Milt” Trafton, 85, former chief executive of Safeco Corp. and a corporate art collector, died Saturday.

Trafton, who assembled a nationally recognized art collection as head of the locally based insurance company, died after being hospitalized with worsening complications from pneumonia, friends and relatives said.

In 1953, the year he become chief executive, a subsidiary was established as Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America, later shortened to Safeco, the name adopted for the parent company in 1968.

In the 1980s, Trafton led a successful defense against a takeover bid by Lincoln National Corp. of Fort Wayne, Ind., as Safeco’s stock price rose from about $30 to $46 a share.

In the 1960s, Trafton was among the founders and later served as chairman of ArtsFund, then known as Corporate Council for the Arts, which seeks to foster budget stability for nonprofit arts groups.

He also was a founder and chairman of the Fifth Avenue Theater, the city’s leading venue for traveling Broadway musicals.

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