NEW YORK — Bernard L. Shaw, a former San Francisco police officer who became the bodyguard and husband of Patricia Hearst, the heiress abducted in 1974 by a leftist guerrilla organization and then imprisoned for crimes she was accused of committing on its behalf, died Dec. 17 at his home in Garrison, N.Y. He was 68.
Hearst Corp. said he died after a long illness but did not specify the cause.
Mr. Shaw gained a kind of reflected celebrity through his association with Patty Hearst, which the news media saw as an unlikely union of the upper and working classes. They met in 1976 after she was released on bail pending an appeal of her conviction in a bank robbery, which was carried out — with her help, prosecutors said — by a radical group that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. Mr. Shaw was one of about 20 bodyguards hired by the Hearst family.
Hearst was 19 when she was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 4, 1974. She said in a tape recording that April that she had willingly adopted their cause, but her lawyers later said her captors had physically and sexually abused her and brainwashed her into joining them.
A mother of four was killed in the armed robbery. Hearst was also accused of spraying a Los Angeles street with gunfire to help one of her kidnappers escape after he had robbed a sporting goods store. She was taken into custody more than a year after six Symbionese Liberation Army members were killed in a shootout with the Los Angeles police.
After the US Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal, she was returned to prison, where Mr. Shaw visited her four times a week. His first marriage was dissolved in 1977. President Jimmy Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence in 1979, and she and Mr. Shaw married in a brief but well-publicized Episcopal ceremony at a naval base in San Francisco Bay.
Bernard Lee Shaw was born in San Francisco on Sept. 3, 1945. He attended the University of San Francisco and served in the Army. He began working for Hearst Corp. in 1983 and was the company’s vice president of corporate security at his death.
In addition to Hearst, now Patricia Hearst Shaw, Mr. Shaw leaves their two daughters, Gillian Hearst Simonds and Lydia Hearst-Shaw; two children from his previous marriage, Thomas and Heather Shaw; a sister, Joan Carmignani; and a granddaughter.
Hearst Shaw said her family had been pessimistic about her long-term chances of staying with Mr. Shaw. “My parents gave us a Sears vacuum cleaner as a wedding present,” she told Conan O’Brien in 1996. “They thought it wouldn’t last.”