Clarence Ditlow, 'guardian angel' of auto safety

When Clarence Ditlow initially applied for a lawyer's job at Ralph Nader's Public Interest Research Group in 1971, he was so shy some staffers felt he couldn't be an effective advocate.

Nader ally Joan Claybrook thought otherwise. She urged Nader to hire the young graduate of Lehigh University, Georgetown School of Law and Harvard School of Business. What impressed Claybrook was not his academic background but the fact that he had been a wrestler at Lehigh. "I said anyone determined enough to be a wrestler can be an advocate," she said.

Claybrook's intuition proved unerring. As executive director of the Center for Auto Safety for more than 40 years, Ditlow, who died Nov. 10 a