Mind of S.F. Leader Fails; Shoots Self
Former Assessor Uses Revolver in Garage at Home; Found by Wife; Taken to Hospital
Suit Brought in Connection With Poulsen Wireless Co. Is Held Responsible for Act
Dr. Washington Dodge, former banker and former Assessor of San Francisco, attempted suicide at 5 o'clock last night by shooting himself in the head with a revolver. He is at the St. Francis Hospital and may die.
Strain and worry over litigation brought against him as the result of his connection with the Poulsen Wireless Company is said to have caused him to seek death.
The suicide attempt was made in the garage in the rear of his home at 840 Powell Street. He was found by his wife.
Gavin McNab, attorney and lifelong friend of Dr. Dodge, made the following statement on behalf of the family last night.
"The suit brought against Dr. Dodge by Tilden Tognazzini and Charles F. Leege, both vice-presidents of the Anglo California Trust Company, claiming that they bought stock of the Poulsen Wireless Company on the market because Dr. Dodge said it was good, is directly responsible for his act."
"They did not claim that they bought the stock through him, but I know that he felt that this was the first attack made upon his honor."
"Dr. Dodge cared nothing about the financial side of the suit, but the assault upon his good name overcame him. He collapsed under the strain and was suffering from temporary insanity."
The suit for $57,615 damages against Dr. Dodge was brought in Marin county. The complaint was unverified, according to McNab, and he had the suit transferred to this county. Dr. Dodge denied each of the charges under oath.
The suit was brought on January 15 of this year. Tognazzini and Leege charged that on the representation of Dr. Dodge they purchases 6,900 shares of Poulsen Wireless stock, paying the average of $11.35 per share. At the time of the purchase of the stock, between September, 1917, and August, 1918, the value of the stock, the plaintiffs claimed, was but $3 a share. Dr. Dodge, they stated in their suit, knew that the stock was not worth more at the time they purchased it.
Dr. Dodge's resignation as president of the Poulsen Wireless Company, followed on January 25.
In December, 1912, Dr. Dodge became president of the Federal Telegraph Company, holding the place until last January, when he resigned. At the time of his resignation it was rumored that he had been forced out, but this he denied. His resignation, he said, was voluntary, because he could not agree with his associates, E. W. Hopkins, vice president of the company, and John L. Deahl, a director, resigned at the same time.
Dr. Dodge is 60 years of age. He is a graduate of the medical department of the University of California. He entered political life for the first time in 1898, when he was elected supervisor. He was active in politics during the regime of Mayor James D. Phelan. Two years later Dr. Dodge was elected assessor, holding the position for four successive terms, when he retired to become vice president of the Anglo-London and Paris National Bank in April, 1913.
Dr. Dodge, his wife and their son, Washington Dodge, Jr., were on the White Star liner Titanic when she struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic off the Newfoundland banks in April, 1912. In the excitement that followed the crash, Mrs. Dodge and their son, who was then five years old, were placed in a lifeboat on the starboard side, while Dr. Dodge manned an oar in a lifeboat on the port side.
When the giant vessel broke in two and sank, Dr. Dodge believed that his wife and son had been lost. It was not until he was picked up by the steamship Carpathia on the following morning that he learned that his wife and son had been rescued and were passengers on the same vessel, having been picked up only a few hours before he was rescued.
Dr. Dodge, upon the advice of his physician, Dr. John Gallwey, was to have gone to Santa Barbara this morning for his health.
Besides his wife, Dr. Dodge has three children, Harry Dodge, who is in the import business in San Francisco; Washington Dodge, Jr., and Miss Vieda Dodge.